Rookie Thompson Leads Rocket Mortgage by 2 Shots at 63

Davis Thompson, playing on a sponsor’s exemption, is making his third start as a pro and seems to have figured things out already.

The 22-year-old Thompson tied the course record by shooting a bogey-free, 9-under-par 63 and held a two-stroke lead over Brandon Hagy, Tom Lewis of England and Joaquin Niemann of Chile when the rain-delayed first round of the Rocket Mortgage Golf Club was halted by darkness at Detroit Golf Club.

Play was halted for a little more than three hours because of a storm in the middle of the day and darkness ended play with 31 players still on the course, and they will return on Friday morning to conclude the opening round.

“I had a good warm-up and it carried over, as got off to a great start with birdies on the first two holes (after starting at No. 10) and just kept going from there,” said Thompson, who was a 2020 and 2021 All-American at Georgia. “I just took it one hole at a time and didn’t get ahead of myself.

“The course was soft because of the rain, so you could fire right at the flags and give yourself a lot of birdie chances. I hit the ball well enough to give myself a lot of opportunities and was able to capitalize on several of them.

“I know I’ve got a long way to go. I’m just going to try to do the same thing tomorrow.”

Thompson, who tied for 35th in the Palmetto Championship at Congaree and missed the cut in the Travelers Championship last month in his first two PGA Tour starts, collected four birdies after starting on the front nine and added five more coming home on the front.

Hagy, who is from Westlake Village and won the 2014 Byron Nelson Award while playing at Cal, birdied five of the first 11 holes en route to his bogey-free 65, which Lewis matched with four birdies while starting on the back nine and three more coming home on the front.

Niemann, playing late in the day, carded seven birdies in his bogey-free 65 that he finished in semi-darkness. 

“I got a couple tournaments recently where I’ve had to kind of fight back on Friday just to give myself a chance for the weekend, so it’s nice to kind of get off to a good start in the first round,” said Hagy, who has not yet won as a pro.

“I didn’t make everything, but when I looked up, I liked what I was seeing for most of the day, which is good. That’s all you can ask for is you hit it the way you want, it’s rolling it well and hopefully you read it right.”

Said Lewis, who has won three times as a pro but not on the PGA Tour, said: “I played well out there today. I drove the ball well. It’s kind of easier to hit the fairways because they’re plugging, it’s got so much water on there. A couple of drives I probably mis-hit a little bit, but they were still in the fairways.”

J.J. Spaun of Los Angeles and San Diego State collected seven birdies in a 66 and is tied for fifth with Seamus Power of Ireland, who birdied the last three holes.

Jason Day of Australia had seven birdies in a 67 and is in a huge tie for seventh with Matthew Wolff of Agoura Hills, who sank a 19-foot eagle putt on the 17th hole, Satoshi Kodaira of Japan, Si Woo Kim of South Korea, Fabian Gomez of Argentina, Hank Lebioda, Michael Gligic of Canada, Pat Perez of San Diego, Troy Merritt and Robert Streb.

Chris Kirk was 5-under after 17 holes, while Roger Sloan of Canada was at the same number through 15, and both were part of the tie for seventh.

PGA champion Phil Mickelson shot 69 and was in a tie for 36th that included eight-ranked Patrick Reed, while Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama was tied for 56th after a 70, and Bryson DeChambeau, the defending champion, shot 72 and was tied for 110th.

On the eve of the tournament, DeChambeau parted ways with longtime caddie Tim Tucker, who has been on the bag for each of Bryson’s eight PGA Tour victories—including the 2020 U.S. Open.

“They had a good run, and they mutually agreed yesterday afternoon to go their separate ways,” Brett Falkoff, DeChambeau’s agent, told Ryan Lavner of Golf Channel. “Everything runs its course. Tim was getting tired and Bryson was getting tired. In any relationship they run their course, and that’s what happened here.”

Ben Schomin, a tour operations manager for Cobra Golf, caddied for DeChambeau in the first round and be on the bag throughout the Rocket Mortgage Classic. 

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