Cam Davis wins; Akshay Bhatia shows class; 3 other takeaways from Rocket Mortgage Classic

Detroit Golf Club produced drama once again as Australian Cameron Davis won the Rocket Mortgage Classic for the second time in four years, which also marked his second career PGA Tour victory.

Here are five takeaways from the PGA Tour’s only event in Michigan this season:

1. Cameron Davis, welcome back to the winner’s circle

Cameron Davis, PGA Tour, Rocket Mortgage Classic

Cameron Davis on the 18th green during the final round of the 2024 Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Photo by Ben Jared/PGA Tour via Getty Images

Cameron Davis posted his 18-under-score about 15 minutes before Akshay Bhatia finished, leaving his fate in another man’s hands. But Bhatia three-putted the challenging 18th green, giving Davis the title and his second career PGA Tour victory.

He won this event three years ago, defeating Troy Merritt and Joaquin Niemann in a thrilling five-hole playoff. That win gave him a massive momentum boost, as he finished the season ranked 37th in the FedEx Cup standings. He also went on to make the Presidents Cup team in 2022, something he hopes to once again achieve in 2024.

But the Australian did not need extra holes this time, although a playoff looked all but certain after Bhatia hit his second shot onto the green. Yet, golf is a funny but frustrating game that never ceases to amaze. Just ask Davis, who missed 11 cuts a season ago.

Before this week, Davis had not recorded a top-20 finish since The Masters, when he tied for 12th at Augusta National. He missed the cut at the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open and most recently tied for 48th at the Travelers Championship. But Davis proved to International Captian Mike Weir that he can turn things around quickly, a necessity for match play.

2. Akshay Bhatia succeeded in defeat

Akshay Bhatia, PGA Tour, Rocket Mortgage Classic

Akshay Bhatia reacts to his missed par putt on the 18th green during the final round of the 2024 Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Photo by Ben Jared/PGA Tour via Getty Images

Tied with Cameron Davis at 18-under-par, Akshay Bhatia faced a 32-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole. A make would give him the win, and a tie would force a two-man, sudden-death playoff. But Bhatia left his attempt woefully short. The 22-year-old then missed his four-foot par attempt, which handed Davis the Rocket Mortgage Classic title. It marked his first three-putt of the week.

It was tough to watch as Bhatia stood there in disbelief, looking at the ground, asking himself, “How?” And yet, unlike Rory McIlroy at the U.S. Open, Bhatia answered every question about what transpired on the 18th hole.

In doing so, he provided a gentle reminder that, yes, we are all human, and yes, we all make mistakes—a testament to who he is as a person.

“It sucks; no other way to put it. It just sucks,” Bhatia said.

“It’s hard; you’ve got so much slope there, so you don’t want to run it five, six feet by. Yeah, just a little bit of nerves, honestly. I’m human and yeah, the greens get slower throughout the day here, poa annua’s pretty tough.”

Bhatia has proven himself as a winner twice before, winning the Barracuda Championship last year and the Valero Texas Open this past April. Both victories required extra holes.

But Bhatia won the hearts of many this time around because of what he said afterward. He was relatable to all of us, something many golf fans struggle to do when watching the world’s best execute their craft perfectly.

3. Detroit Golf Club… showed some teeth?

Cameron Young, PGA Tour, Rocket Mortgage Classic

Cameron Young reacts to a missed putt on the 14th green.
Photo by Ben Jared/PGA Tour via Getty Images

Over the past five years, the Rocket Mortgage Classic has produced a winning score of 20-under par or lower on four occasions. Funny enough, when Cameron Davis won in 2021, he also finished at 18-under-par, the score he finished with on Sunday.

Nevertheless, entering Sunday’s final round, it seemed like 20 or 21-under would get the job done. But instead of a birdie barrage, Detroit Golf Club became a chilly challenge. A cold front blew across Michigan on Saturday night into Sunday morning, bringing colder temperatures and changing the wind direction.

That led to a final scoring average of 71.9—almost even par—and a far cry from what we saw earlier in the week. Just a day before, for Saturday’s third round, the scoring average was 69.5.

The course showed some teeth on Sunday, mainly due to the weather. But final-round pressure also got to some players, namely Akshay Bhatia, Aaron Rai, and Cameron Young. Difficult conditions only exacerbate that pressure, but it at least provided great entertainment for golf fans everywhere.

4. When will Cameron Young get over the hump?

Cameron Young, PGA Tour, Rocket Mortgage Classic

Cameron Young plays a tee shot during the final round of the 2024 Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Cameron Young has seven runner-up finishes without a victory in his career to date—the most a player has had without a win since 1983. That includes a solo second at St. Andrews in 2022, when he fell one stroke shy of Cameron Smith at The Open Championship, thanks to an eagle he made on the 72nd hole.

You would think that Young would have won by now, given that his close call at the home of golf came nearly two years ago, but unfortunately for him, that is not the case.

Young’s putter has left him down in big moments, and that frustrating reality reared its ugly head again on Sunday at Detroit Golf Club. The former Wake Forest Demon Deacon could not buy a bucket, missing makeable birdie and par putts on the back nine that prevented him from grabbing that first title. His frustration got the best of him, too. On the 14th tee, Young snapped his Driver Shaft after missing his tee shot left—a sign that his mental fortitude was not in the best place. He went on to miss a 7-footer for birdie on that hole, which served as a perfect metaphor for Young’s close calls over the past three years.

With that said, Young is due. Hopefully, he will learn from this experience and use it as motivation in the coming weeks. Perhaps he can break through at Royal Troon, but if not, plenty of other opportunities will present themselves.

5. Go Noles! Hats off to Luke Clanton

PGA Tour, Rocket Mortgage Classic

Luke Clanton during the final round of the 2024 Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Photo by Joseph Weiser/Getty Images

Fresh off a dominant sophomore campaign at Florida State, where he posted the lowest single-season scoring average in school history (69.3), Luke Clanton shined in his PGA Tour debut. He posted a top-10 finish, thanks in part to the 7-under 65 he fired on day three to put him in contention. He also posted a pair of sub-70 rounds on Thursday and Friday, but an even-par 72 during Sunday’s final round kept him at bay.

Nevertheless, Clanton, who also made the cut at Pinehurst No. 2 this year, has shown that he can compete on any course against any player. He has a bright future ahead of him, but it will be a while before the golfing world sees him on a week-to-week basis in the professional ranks. That said, Clanton received an invitation to next week’s John Deere Classic. He will also play in the 2025 Valspar Championship field, thanks to his victory at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational.

Clanton has two years remaining at Florida State, where he hopes to help his team capture a national title. The Seminoles came close this past season, losing to Auburn in the finals by the narrowest of margins.

Despite that, Clanton is just another example of the impressive young talent in the game. Look no further than Neal Shipley, the Low-Amateur from the U.S. Open and Augusta National. Shipley tied for 20th in his pro debut this past week. Amateurs Ben James and Miles Russell also turned in noteworthy performances at Detroit Golf Club, although the 15-year-old Russell missed the cut. Still, the next decade in American golf will be fascinating, given the hundreds of young up-and-comers rising through the ranks.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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