Bryson DeChambeau’s title defense at the Rocket Mortgage Classic didn’t go as planned. Prior to the first round, he and his caddie parted ways. After his second round, DeChambeau was headed home.
And at no point on Thursday or Friday did he speak with the media.
DeChambeau, a Rocket Mortgage paid ambassador, in addition to being the defending champ, declined interview requests after both of his rounds. He shot 72-71 to finish 36 holes at 1 under par and missed the cut for just the second time this year (Genesis Invitational).
DeChambeau employed Ben Schomin, director of tour operations for Cobra Golf, as his caddie for the two tournament days after longtime looper Tim Tucker suddenly departed on Wednesday evening.
Brett Falkoff, DeChambeau’s manager, said the split was mutual, but Golf Digest reported that the decision to leave DeChambeau’s bag on the eve of his title defense was Tucker’s.
Tucker and DeChambeau won eight tournaments as a team, including the 2020 U.S. Open. They worked together during Wednesday’s pro-am, prior to the split.
Through two rounds at Detroit Golf Club, DeChambeau struggled with consistency, particularly on the front nine, where he made five birdies and six birdies. He made two birdies and no bogeys on the back nine, over 36 holes.
DeChambeau was second in the field in strokes gained: off the tee, but 144th in strokes gained: approach the green. He also lost strokes on and around the green, as well as tee to green.
Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, survived to the weekend, thanks to a birdie on the par-5 17th. He followed his opening 69 with an even-par 72 to make the cut on the number.
And, he did speak to reporters.
“I am tired of trying to fight to make cuts. I want to get in contention, because that's what's so much fun, like it was at the PGA, just being in contention and having a chance,” Mickelson said on Friday.
“So, I've got to play a little bit better, but it is important to me that I get two more competitive rounds. And you never know what could happen. This is a golf course that you could light up if you play well, you get a few putts going, it's out there. Hopefully, I can make a hot run tomorrow because I would love nothing more than to have a chance on Sunday.”
Mickelson, who is making his tournament debut, has had his own controversy this week. He said on Thursday that this was going to be a one-and-done here, after a story was written in The Detroit News titled, “Lefty and Dandy Don: How a Grosse Pointe bookie allegedly cheated Phil Mickelson.”
Mickelson backtracked somewhat on Friday.
“I don't want to be divisive. I didn't like the way that felt with the reporter,” he said. “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 all – 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.”
Mickelson played Round 2 alongside just Rickie Fowler as the third member of their group, Hideki Matsuyama, withdrew after testing positive for COVID-19.
The Tour didn’t do contact tracing with Mickelson or Fowler and Mickelson said that he had been fully vaccinated.
Still, Mickelson was concerned, not just for Matsuyama, but for those who have recently been in contact with the Masters champion.
“It's certainly unsettling to know that I spent the entire day that close, but also as I look back, I know that I kept my distance from everybody and tried to stay 6 feet and tried – so I think we're all being as responsible as we can,” Mickelson said.
“And I'm very sorry that that happened to him and I hope he's able to play [The Open], and I also hope that Rickie and his caddie, Joey, and myself and my [caddie] brother, that we're okay, too.”