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I woke up on Sunday morning looking forward to a full day of watching the final round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Rickie Fowler, one of my favorite professional golfers, entered the day with the lead. I recommended people bet him on OutKick’s golf betting podcast. Collin Morikawa, another PGA Tour star, sat just a few shots back of Fowler.
But imagine my surprise when I got up and saw an alert in the PGA Tour app. The round was already underway.
Not only that, it wasn’t on TV. Anywhere.
Thanks to impending poor weather conditions in Detroit, the final round start was moved up by several hours.
And, the PGA Tour app informed me that Rocket Mortgage Classic coverage was on Peacock and GolfChannel.com until 11:15 a.m. E.T. Then, coverage shifted to CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports app.
Thankfully, as a millennial, I have access to just about every streaming service in existence. And, eventually, I found the coverage. But it wasn’t easy.
This isn’t new for the PGA Tour, either. On Thursday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Dylan Wu made an albatross. And literally no video exists of that extremely rare accomplishment.
Early Sunday coverage I could only watch on my computer. Finally, once it shifted to the CBS Sports app, I could get that on my television.
But I’m guessing that most people gave up way before I did. And the leaders got to the the important stretch of the tournament — the final six holes — around noon eastern. For folks in the Pacific time zone, that’s nine o’clock in the morning.
I understand that weather made it such that the tournament needed to be moved up. The PGA Tour much prefers a Sunday finish — even a ridiculously early one — to a Monday finish.
Rocket Mortgage Classic features incredibly dramatic finish not shown live on television
Part of the reason is that fans are more likely to watch on a Sunday — at any time — than Monday. However, if the Rocket Mortgage Classic broadcast isn’t available anywhere, then does it even matter?
So, the live tournament played out on apps and websites that most people probably didn’t bother to find. And the PGA Tour kept its original plan: show the tournament on Golf Channel and CBS on Sunday afternoon from 1-6 p.m. E.T.
Except they’re playing it on tape delay. In this era of the Internet, what person doesn’t already know who won? And how many people are going to watch the replay of a tournament that already ended?
The Rocket Mortgage Classic isn’t exactly a premium PGA Tour event. It’s not an elevated event and many of the best players in the world elected to skip it. Some played — Like Tony Finaua and Justin Thomas — but failed to make the cut.
Despite all of that going against it, the PGA Tour got a near dream scenario. Two of its biggest American stars — Rickie Fowler and Collin Morikawa — battling to win the event over the final few holes on a Sunday afternoon. With another player — Canadian Adam Hadwin — also joining the mix.
But again, no TV coverage of the battle. Nothing. At least, not until later in the day on CBS. On tape delay. Several hours after the tournament ended.
What year is it?
Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa and Adam Hadwin put on a show — that almost no one could watch — in PGA Tour event Sunday afternoon
Not only that, but once the 1 p.m. E.T. window started on Golf Channel, Fowler had just finished hole #13. Morikawa, #15. The two men were tied at the tip of the leaderboard.
But, again, instead of immediately showing live coverage of the finish, Golf Channel showed the beginning of the round. On tape delay.
Yes, at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, 10 a.m. Pacific Time, with the Rocket Mortgage Classic leaders battling to win the event, Golf Channel showed footage that was three hours old.
As Canadian Adam Hadwin sank a long putt to tie Fowler and Morikawa at 23-under with just three holes to play, you know what played on Golf Channel?
Nicolai Højgaard making a birdie putt on hole #6 to get to -14. Seriously.
Ultimately, Morikawa posted a ridiculous eight-under 64 to set the clubhouse lead at 24-under. Adam Hadwin made birdie on the very easy par-5 17th to tie that number. Rickie Fowler just couldn’t get it done and made par on 17.
So, heading to 18, Adam Hadwin needed birdie to win, and Fowler needed birdie to tie along with a Hadwin par or worse to get into a playoff.
And Fowler, in incredibly dramatic fashion, threw an absolute dart into the 18th green. Just eight players made par on 18 heading into the final group.
Hadwin made par after missing the green.
But the ninth birdie of the day came from Rickie Fowler. And as Fowler’s three-foot putt hit the bottom of the cup, Golf Channel showed Adam Schenk’s tee shot into the 9th green from over three hours prior.
CBS, meanwhile, aired a golf documentary during all of this drama. The network was still 45 minutes away from its coverage.
Rocket Mortgage Classic enters dramatic three-way playoff
All the while, Rickie Fowler, Collin Morikawa and Adam Hadwin headed into a playoff to determine the winner of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
With just the people in attendance and the few (like myself) who found the event on the CBS Sports app watching, the men began the playoff.
Fowler hit — by far — the worst tee shot of the three players. Both Morikawa and Hadwin found the fairway around 150 yards from the pin.
Fowler pushed his tee shot well right and more than 180 yards away. But golf is a funny game.
Of the three, no one got closer on his approach than Rickie Fowler. He had just 12 feet left for birdie, while Hadwin’s ball finished nearly 22 feet away and behind Fowler’s ball. Morikawa’s ball hopped into the rough just over the green.
Hadwin missed his putt and Morikawa’s chip came up short. That left Rickie Fowler with a putt to win the tournament.
And for the first time in 1,610 days, Rickie Fowler is a PGA Tour tournament winner.
Too bad almost no one got to see it.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak