DETROIT – Phil Mickelson did not rule out returning to Detroit in 2022, but he did not rule out this either.
Whatever the six-time world champion decides will be based on his schedule, not his lengthy media talks that made headlines during the Rocket Mortgage Classic week earlier this month.
Jason Langwell, the tournament director, told Detroit News this week that he had a conversation with Mickelson as the fan-favorite left-hander made his way to his car after finishing Sunday’s round.
“And he couldn’t praise the golf course and the experience anymore,” Langwell said this week. “I think that his return … the factors for his return will not be different from those that would have been if it were not for (article):“ Does this fit my schedule ”.
“Based on this (conversation), if he does not return, it will not be because of this (article).”
Mickelson, 51, played in Michigan for the first time since the 2008 PGA Championship and finished 74th with 3 fewer places.
But he did what he was brought here for: selling tickets. Mickelson has pledged to take part in the tournament at the end of May, offsetting the need to post a deposit in 2020 due to a shuffled schedule due to COVID-19. On the day of its execution, Rocket Mortgage Classic officials saw a significant surge in interest in tickets – 3-4 times.
This was significant considering that only Rocket was given about a month to sell tickets in 2021, because the state did not announce the lifting of outdoor bandwidth restrictions until the end of May, starting June 1.
Despite this short window – the pre-sale of tickets in the first year, 2019, lasted three months (there were no fans in 2020) – attendance ended at the 2019 level, Langwell said. Despite several days of bad weather. The PGA Tour always declines to disclose specific attendance figures, but the first Rocket Mortgage Classic is believed to have attracted at least 40,000 and possibly 50,000 viewers.
If the 2021 Rocket came close to that, it has been achieved despite limited ticket sales for Tuesday’s practice round and a ZONE 3-1-3 celebrity scrum. Wednesday through Sunday were the only days available for general admission tickets.
“We were very happy with the attendance,” Langwell said, adding that daily numbers were more balanced than in 2019. “People were ready to go out.”
Langwell said Thursday’s numbers were higher than in 2019, when the PGA tour was very impressed with attendance on Thursday. The biggest days in 2021 were Friday and Saturday.
Interestingly, Friday’s round took place the day after Mickelson said in a post-round press conference that he would not be returning to Detroit because he was upset by a Detroit News article that highlighted a past gambling connection with a bookmaker with the mafia, from Park Gross Pointe. He even released a series of tweets about his frustration during Thursday’s three-hour rain delay.
The crowd on Friday following Mickelson and Ricky Fowler was huge, with many fans wearing custom T-shirts and many shouting “Come back, Phil!” and “We love you, Phil!” After the round, Mickelson, speaking to the media, changed his tune from Thursday and said he would indeed be back – “I agree,” he said, “if 50,000 Detroit subway residents sign a petition launched by a local sports fan, and also if each of signers committed one random act of kindness to someone in the community (on Friday, the petition did not receive 13,000 signatures). The next day, another huge crowd gathered for his Saturday morning round, with many fans thanking Mickelson for changing his mind.
He had fans in his corner – if he raised his thumb even further, his glove wouldn’t fit – and neither would Detroit Golf Club.
“I don’t think it benefited anyone,” said Mark Douglas, president of the Detroit Golf Club. “I just thought it was not the right time; in my opinion, this was not news or noteworthy. “
Mickelson seemed to object to this being an old story, although “old news” by definition means that it had already been reported before – which it hadn’t – as well as a timeline that was released the Tuesday before the tournament. The transcripts of the testimony were disclosed three years ago and revealed by The News during its coverage of the trial last month. He won a $ 500,000 bet but never got paid. The article did not accuse him of any violations. Mickelson also suggested that Novosti should promote the event positively.
It is likely that Mickelson’s comments on Thursday led to an increase in ticket sales for Friday, and his comments on Friday led to an increase in ticket sales on Saturday. Langwell was unable to confirm this and it was difficult to track down because there were no additional sales this year. Mickelson fans would have to buy tickets online. Undoubtedly: Mickelson attracted the crowd and brought a lot more national attention to the tournament.
By the end of the week, Rocket Mortgage had joined the saga, pushing the petition to fans with flyers and QR code stickers scattered across the golf course. The petition is on the tournament website.
“The Phil factor,” Langwell said, “we really saw just around the corner,” when tickets went on sale.
Eager to comment on the growing crowd around him on Friday and Saturday nights, Langwell said with a laugh, “Looks like we noticed this from the gallery’s management.”
Mickelson came to Detroit despite having played in the US Open in San Diego and the Travelers Championship in Connecticut in the previous two weeks. He played for the first time this season for three weeks in a row. Then, after finishing his time in Detroit, he traveled to Montana to play a TV show with Bryson DeShambeau, Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers.
The PGA tour schedule for 2021-22 is due to be announced in the coming weeks. The next season will begin shortly after this season concludes on September 2-5 of the Tour Championship. If next season is the same as this one, Rocket will drop two weeks after the US Open and two weeks before the UK Open. Mickelson will compete in them, and has long been loyal to the Travelers, which he won twice.
Whether this is due to a tight schedule, Mickelson opened the British Open on Thursday with a score of 10-80. He finished 12 on Friday. The 2021 PGA Championship winner missed.