Familiar and unfamiliar players were high on the leaderboard today in the first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, the fourth PGA Tour event to return amid this coronavirus pandemic. Scott Stallings, Doc Redman, and Kevin Kisner all shot 65s to tie for first on a sunny day that was perfect for golf. Redman's day began solidly, but his round really took off on the back nine when he birdied an amazing six of the last seven holes to finish at 7 under par. Stallings and Redman both only shot one bogey, and Kisner, along with five birdies on the front nine, was bogey-free on the day.
Many new names ascended high onto the leaderboard during the first round of the tournament. While Redman, Stallings, and Kisner were the only players at -7, Chase Seiffert, Henrik Norlander, and George McNeill were among many little-known players within two shots of the lead. However, many of the usual suspects were still around, most notably Bryson DeChambeau, who shot a 66 to finish the first round at -6. Rickie Fowler also finished at -5, and RBC Heritage winner Webb Simpson was three shots back at -4.
Of course, any golf tournament is bound to have many spectacular shots, and this tournament was no exception. Brendon Todd, who was in contention, nearly eagled the par-4 tenth hole with a near-miss on a 113 yard iron shot (he birdied the hole and finished at -4). To hear the play-by-play of that and many other shots, make sure to watch my play-by-play broadcast of the tournament's first round.
Concerns about coronavirus have been swirling throughout the past few PGA Tour tournaments, and especially during last week's Travelers Championship, when several golfers sat out of the tournament for reasons having to do with COVID-19. However, it was a fun sight this week to see some of those players returning. Cameron Champ, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, was back on the course today as a late addition to the field. Webb Simpson also returned to golf after a week off due to precautionary reasons. Fortunately, golf is one of the safest sports to play during the coronavirus pandemic, and social distancing can be maintained on the golf course. The Rocket Mortgage Classic is the first of five PGA Tour events to take place this July, and the PGA Tour seems to have no plans to shut down, so all of the July events will almost certainly take place. For now, though, the players are only focused on the event going on right now, and if the next couple of rounds play out anything like the first, there should be a very tight and exciting finish on Sunday.