Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

From the Editor

With apologies to Tom Pernice, Dottie Pepper, and Christy O’Connor Jr.-defending champions of the Buick Open, Olds Classic and Foremost Senior Championship respectively-there’s only one professional golfer that the general golfing public really cares about right now. That’s right, Tiger Woods. At press time, Tiger had demolished the field at the 100th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and had set his sights on the claret jug at St. Andrews. His tremendous victory at the National Open only launched Tiger higher into the upper Iconosphere of global sports and media figures. Could Tiger be bigger than even the Beatles? If so, let it be.

But you know all of this and volumes have been written about the Tiger phenomenon. But one thing is now certain: Buick Motor Division sure made a smart investment last fall in landing Tiger Woods as a spokesman. Whatever Buick paid Tiger, it all seems worth it now—especially with the news that Tiger is set to appear at the 2000 Buick Open. In the past, Tiger wouldn’t commit to an event where he wasn’t the defending champion until the week before. But this year Buick used its sponsorship leverage to get Tiger to commit a month before the event—thus maximizing advance ticket sales and auto showroom incentives. Hey, with the big bucks Buick is spending it was a “must do” for the Buick marketing mavens to get Woods to be at its flagship golf event.

And yes, Buick’s endorsement contract with Tiger does not stipulate any Buick tournaments for him—thus complying with the PGA Tour’s no appearance fee clause. But last fall, Tiger said he would commit to playing in at least two of the four Buick Tour events. He played in the Buick Invitational in San Diego and then passed on the Buick Classic in New York which preceded the Open. So that left either the Buick Open in August or the Buick Challenge in Callaway Gardens, Georgia in late September. Its hard not to imagine some tacit “understandings” in the matter of helping out the hometown event of Tigers sponsor.

Okay, now that Tiger set to play in the Buick Open, the next worry is what happens if he doesn’t make the cut? Will Warwick Hills turn into a ghost town on Saturday and Sunday with tumbleweeds blowing down the 18th fairway? Definitely not; but veteran Buick watchers need to adjust their viewing schedule according to Tiger’s “makes cut” or “doesn’t make cut” status. In particular, one should take full advantage of the Tiger Mega-Gallery Factor and head elsewhere on the course to see more action. Anyway, here’s my plan:

If Tiger doesn’t make the cut: I’ll try to interview one of the lockerroom attendants at Warwick Hills. If necessary, I’ll slip him a few bucks to ascertain some inside information: how many Nike shoes, balls and shirts did Tiger leave in his locker? Note to self: scratch any query about boxers or briefs. This isn’t Maximum Golf magazine.

If Tiger doesn’t make the cut: I’ll be waiting near the players parking lot for the first glimpse of Tiger’s courtesy Buick. After Tigers escorted out of the clubhouse by security, I’ll walk over to his vehicle (a stretch LeSabre?) and make note of the mileage. I’ll compare that figure with the one taken earlier in the week when his car first arrived at Warwick. Note to self: early in the week, try to ask Tiger in pressroom about his opinion on the price of gasoline in Michigan and what he intends to do about it.

If Tiger doesn’t make the cut: I’ll hang out with my notepad and camera at various hotel lobbies in case Tiger or his caddie strolls by as they prepare check-out. I’ll make special note of any special charges Tiger or Steve Williams (his caddie) may incur for pizza, movies, video games.

If Tiger doesn’t make the cut: Wearing my binoculars, I’ll wait around Flint airport on Friday night so I can catch the first sight of Tigers private jet on the runway. Later, I’ll try to interview someone in the airport control tower about the specifics of Tigers take-off pattern.

If Tiger makes the cut: I’ll head for the practice range at Warwick Hills, take a seat in the stands, and watch Couples or Singh work through their bag. There is not a better spot to study and observe the mechanics and music of Tour players at work than down on the range. Note to self: bring water, sunscreen and some snacks. There’s still a lot to learn.

If Tiger makes the cut: I’ll go out on the course to follow some of the action of some of Michigan players who’ll undoubtedly qualify for the event. Last year, the amateur and U of M player Andy Matthews made it to Big Time for one memorable week (see story in this issue). Don’t count him out for a return visit. And you can be sure that Flint GC’s own Jeff Roth will be in the field. Last year, he acquitted himself quite nicely, putting together an admirable quartet of rounds (71, 68, 72, 69) and cashing in $12,411

If Tiger makes the cut: Walk the final nine holes and follow Michigan native and Tour rookie Jason Buha. Hopefully, extend my congratulations on his superb low score and thank him again for being a contributor to the Michigan Golfer.

If Tiger makes the cut: I’ll head for the leafy confines of the 8th and 17th holes where one can watch high arcing irons seek out the pins on the always immaculate Warwick Hills greens. Then with each group I’ll casually stroll over and behind either the 9th or 18th teeboxes to watch some power drives. Note to self: try to watch in particular Lehman, Els, Garcia, Franco and Elkington. Oh yes, assuming a sponsor’s exemption, try to watch Charles Howell, the sensational NCAA champion who turned pro this summer. Is Howell the next Tiger? Or is Tiger a mere forerunner of Howell?

These questions and more will be happily answered at the 2000 Buick Open. Sure nice of Tiger to have answered the Big One. See you at Warwick Hills.

Terry Moore

Return to the Michigan Golfer August 2000 Issue Page
Return to the Michigan Golfer Home Page

You can contact us at clubhouse@webgolfer.com
Copyright© Great Lakes Sports Publications, Inc.