From the Editor
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 nowespecially with the news that Tiger is set to appear at the 2000 Buick Open. In the past, Tiger wouldnt commit to an event where he wasnt the defending champion until the week before. But this year Buick used its sponsorship leverage to get Tiger to commit a month before the eventthus 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, Buicks endorsement contract with Tiger does not stipulate any Buick tournaments for himthus complying with the PGA Tours 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 doesnt 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 Tigers makes cut or doesnt 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, heres my plan:
If Tiger doesnt make the cut: Ill try to interview one of the lockerroom attendants at Warwick Hills. If necessary, Ill 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 isnt Maximum Golf magazine.
If Tiger doesnt make the cut: Ill be waiting near the players parking lot for the first glimpse of Tigers courtesy Buick. After Tigers escorted out of the clubhouse by security, Ill walk over to his vehicle (a stretch LeSabre?) and make note of the mileage. Ill 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 doesnt make the cut: Ill hang out with my notepad and camera at various hotel lobbies in case Tiger or his caddie strolls by as they prepare check-out. Ill make special note of any special charges Tiger or Steve Williams (his caddie) may incur for pizza, movies, video games.
If Tiger doesnt make the cut: Wearing my binoculars, Ill wait around Flint airport on Friday night so I can catch the first sight of Tigers private jet on the runway. Later, Ill try to interview someone in the airport control tower about the specifics of Tigers take-off pattern.
If Tiger makes the cut: Ill 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. Theres still a lot to learn.
If Tiger makes the cut: Ill go out on the course to follow some of the action of some of Michigan players wholl 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). Dont count him out for a return visit. And you can be sure that Flint GCs 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: Ill 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 Ill 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 sponsors 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.
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