Cam Davis of Australia made par on the fifth playoff hole for his first PGA Tour title, beating out Troy Merritt and Chile’s Joaquin Niemann to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Sunday at Detroit Golf Club.
Davis missed would-be tournament-winning putts on all five playoff holes, each of them left-to-right putts of medium length. But after his birdie try at the fifth hole (No. 15) slipped by the cup, Merritt missed a 6-foot par putt that would have extended the battle.
Davis, 26, went 5 under on the back nine to shoot a 5-under 67 and charge into playoff position. Davis’ third shot from the greenside bunker on the par-5 17th took two hops, glanced the pin and dropped for an eagle that tied him for the lead.
“I didn’t have anything to lose so it wasn’t like I was nervous on 17, I was just trying to hit a good bunker shot,” Davis said. “Picked my spot and just flew it a little bit past it, jammed the flag. I mean, I don’t know, those I guess are the sort of things that need to go your way if you want to keep pushing forward.”
He followed that with a birdie on the last hole to move to 18-under 270 for the event, where 54-hole co-leaders Niemann and Merritt later joined him.
What started as a three-way playoff was whittled down to two in short order when Niemann made bogey on the first hole, No. 18. It was Niemann’s first bogey in 77 holes dating back to last week’s event, and it couldn’t have come at a less ideal moment.
“I hit the best driver I hit of the whole tournament, I think,” Niemann said of the playoff hole. “I didn’t have the best number to attack the hole. I want to take a little bit off of the wedge and I just double-crossed it a little bit and that’s why it went a little bit too past the hole.
“Then it was an impossible shot out of the rough back there and almost hit the pin, almost could get pretty lucky there. Then I hit a good putt, it just wasn’t enough.”
Davis and Merritt made par on the hole to forge ahead. They then played the par-3 15th, the par-4 16th and the par-5 14th before returning to No. 15. The five-hole playoff came just one week after an eight-hole playoff at the Travelers Championship, which was tied for the second-longest in tour history.
Davis, Merritt (68 on Sunday) and Niemann (68) emerged from a crowded field that shuffled and reshuffled on the leaderboard throughout the round. Bubba Watson, starting the day in the middle of the pack, unleashed a bogey-free, 8-under 64 to set the lead at 16-under 272.
Not long after, Sweden’s Alex Noren polished off his own 64 that made him leader in the clubhouse at 17-under 271.
Merritt was vying for his third career PGA Tour victory.
“Unfortunately, we came up just one short,” Merritt said. “Cam played fantastic in the playoff, he had putt after putt to win. He did what he had to do and great champion.”
Noren and Hank Lebioda (68) finished tied for fourth at 17 under. Watson and Brandon Hagy (68) tied for sixth at 16 under, and South Korean Sungjae Im (67), Ireland’s Seamus Power (67), Mark Anderson (66) and Kevin Kisner (68) tied for eighth at 15 under.
–Field Level Media