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Rocket Mortgage Classic

In strange twist, signature drive might change Phil Mickelson's mind about playing in Detroit

July 02, 2021

Phil Mickelson reacts to the crowd on the fourth hole during the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Gregory Shamus

With the constant cheers that echoed around Phil Mickelson on Friday at Detroit Golf Club, you wouldn’t have known that a day earlier he had all but said he was going to abandon the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Mickelson, appearing in his first Rocket Mortgage, was miffed on Thursday when a story in the Detroit News used a 2018 court filing to publish a story involving a mob-connected bookie who owed Mickelson and friends $500,000 for a bet. Mickelson called the story “very opportunistic and selfish, and irresponsible.” Asked if he would return to play in the tournament, he said, “I don’t see me coming back.”

That sentiment took a decided turn on Friday after Mickelson narrowly made the cut for the weekend. He was asked if anything with tournament officials or fans had changed his mind, and, apparently, there was a very unique circumstance that might do just that.

“The people were awesome; they were so nice,” Mickelson said. “So I would say this: I don't want to be divisive. I didn't like the way that felt with the reporter. The people here were so nice that I'll make a deal with them. There's a guy named Mike Sullivan that's trying to raise 50,000 signatures. If he gets 50,000 and all of those 50,000 agree to do one random act of kindness for another member of the community, I'm in.

“I just think that this tournament has sponsors, from Rocket Mortgage to a lot of the local sponsors, to a lot of the people in the community, that are trying to come together and do something good for the community. If the members of the community will come together, I would love to be back, but what I won't tolerate is that kind of divisive attitude from that particular reporter.”

Sullivan, a co-founder of the Metro Detroit Golfers organization, started a GoFundMe page after Mickelson’s comments on Thursday. He dubbed it, “Bring Phil Mickelson back to Detroit in 2022!”

Sullivan wrote, “Unfortunately Phil Mickelson announced he won't be coming back to Detroit for the 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic, due to some nasty and negative coverage about him in The Detroit News from something 23 years ago. It was an irrelevant story and clearly just clickbait.

“And now our GREAT Detroit sports fans are suffering for it.”

Then Sullivan said Mickelson told him personally that he would reconsider if 50,000 signatures were gathered. “He said ‘Maybe’ with a crying face laughing emoji,” Sullivan wrote. “But close enough!”

There apparently is something more in it for Mickelson than good karma. Sullivan reported that for every person who donates $3.13 or more (313 is Detroit's area code), he would give half to the Phil Mickelson Foundation and the other half to the Rocket Mortgage “Change the Course” initiative.

As of Friday evening, $2,740 was contributed to the GoFundMe page.