Tiger’s Triumph, U.S. Open Part Of Most Memorable PGA Moments In Michigan

Written By Drew Ellis on July 25, 2022

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is set to hold its fourth annual event this week at Detroit Golf Club.

Though the event is still in its infancy, Michigan has a rich history with the PGA Tour.

All-time greats like Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have won hardware in this state.

A total of 12 major championships have been decided in Michigan as well, including nine at Oakland Hills County Club. The state also had the honor of hosting the Ryder Cup in 2004.

With a lot of great moments that tie Michigan to the PGA Tour, here are five that have left a lasting memory.

1996 U.S. Open

Oakland Hills has hosted six U.S. Open Championships over its history. Arguably none was more memorable than the last in 1996.

Tom Lehman entered the final round with a 1-shot lead on Steven Jones. That lead turned into three strokes through the first eight holes on Sunday.

Lehman would go on to bogey holes 10 and 12, allowing Jones to jump into a 2-stroke lead with six holes to play.

Jones would then hold on from there, fending off Lehman and a surging Davis Love III by one shot at 2-under-par for the tournament.

Tiger closes out Buick Open

Michigan went without a PGA Tour event from 2010-18, but prior to that stretch the Buick Open was an annual stop.

Held at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club in Grand Blanc, the Buick Open brought out big names in the PGA Tour for decades after it started in 1958.

In its final year of 2009, Tiger Woods would close out the show by winning the event for the third time.

Woods finished the event 20-under-par to win by three strokes over the field.

Sponsored by Buick during his career, Woods would regularly find his way to Grand Blanc. In 2006, he recorded his 50th career PGA victory by taking home his second Buick Open victory. That year he shot a 66 in all four rounds to post a 24-under-par and win by three.

2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic

After the nearly 10-year hiatus from the state, the PGA Tour returned to Michigan on June 27, 2019 for the debut of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Held at Detroit Golf Club, fans saw Nate Lashley record his first PGA Tour victory by dominating the field. Lashley shot 25-under-par to beat the field by six strokes, which is still the tournament record through three editions.

While the 2020 and 2021 editions were more competitive, the 2019 return to Michigan will always hold a special place in the hearts of golf fans around the state.

It was an opportunity for golf fans outside of Michigan to see what Detroit really had to offer.

2004 Ryder Cup

While it’s not a highlight for the United States, as it was dominated by Europe, Michigan still has the distinction of hosting a Ryder Cup.

In 2004, Bernhard Langer captained Team Europe to a dominant 18.5-9.5 win over Hal Sutton’s Team USA at Oakland Hills.

The three-day team event featured all of the greatest golfers from the states and from Europe.

Europe opened the first session on Thursday with a 3.5-0.5 advantage and never looked back.

Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia each posted 4.5 points for Team Europe to lead the way, while Chris DiMarco led the Team USA effort with 2.5 points.

17th hole at Warwick Hills

While not a specific moment, the 17th hole at Warwick Hills created a legacy all its own.

Grandstands surrounded the par-3 green and a Buick was parked in the water to the left of the tee box. But, what the 17th was known for was its rowdy fans.

Long before people yelled ridiculous things on a tee box, the 17th hole was known for is raucous fans. They chanted, they drank, they cheered, and they would even boo.

While that didn’t sit well with all the golfers, it became one of the staples of the Buick Open.

While the 16th hole at Scottsdale is now considered the “party hole”, the 17th at Warwick Hills provided the blueprint.

Other notable moments

  • Michigan Golf Classic: In September 1969, a PGA Tour event was held at Shenandoah Golf & Country Club in Walled Lake. Larry Ziegler won the tournament in a playoff. However, the tournament was more notable when the supervisor revealed that the sponsors didn’t have enough money to pay all of the prizes.
  • 1987 Buick Open: Known for being a relatively “easy” course, Robert Wrenn posted a 26-under-par total for the four rounds to win by seven shots over Michigander Dan Pohl. Wrenn’s score of -26 would never be bested.
  • 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic: Bryson DeChambeau won the second annual event, one that was impacted by the COVID pandemic. DeChambeau shot 23-under-par to win by three strokes. He would go on to win the U.S. Open two months later for his first major championship.
  • 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic: The most compelling of the three events in Detroit. Cameron Davis won three-man playoff on the fifth extra hole. He held off Troy Merritt and Joaquin Niemann for his first PGA Tour victory.
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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