Sunday, June 29, 2008

No Tiger? No Problem

This past weekend, I had the chance to spend a few days helping cover the Buick Open up at Warrick Hills in Grand Blanc. There was no Tiger, no Phil, no Vijay, and only two of the world's top ten golfers were there. Despite all these pitfalls, it turned out to be one of the best events I've gotten to attend this year. People in the media wanted to say that this tournament had no appeal and with Tiger out for the rest of the year, the game of golf would be in a tailspin. The exact opposite happened, as a wild pro-am and competitive finish allowed the Buick Open to post above-average attendance numbers.

One way the Buick Open drew people to the gates was with the Pro-Am on Wednesday. The feature group on this day included Kid Rock and John Daly, which turned out to be one of the oddest rounds of golf ever played. It included Kid Rock coming out of the clubhouse wearing denim overhauls, white undershirt, and a fedora. The fun didn't stop there as Rock and Daly both prompted the gallery to make noise and do the wave while they were taking their cuts at the ball. This was a gallery straight from Happy Gilmore, and was comprised of more groupies than golfers. The highlight of the round was when Rock gave Daly a full can of Budweiser and Daly then used it as a golf tee, smashing the ball 305 yards and spraying the gallery with beer in the process. The gallery was 4 people deep on each hole, and the Buick organizers (who each had nervous grins on their faces during the round, as if anticipating a disaster at any moment) reaped the benefits of increased ticket sales due to the pairing.

The tournament also provided much drama, as Kenny Perry came from 7 strokes back on the 2nd day to win the tournament by one stroke over Bubba Watson. Watson had a chance to force it to a playoff but his birdie putt fell inches short of the hole. While the tournament may not have had a superstar, it was a family friendly event,with many of the players stopping to sign autographs between holes and to give a golf ball to a kid on the boundary ropes. I know Stu went on Friday and although temperatures got into the 90's, it still provided a lot of fun.

The next tournament to come through Southeast Michigan is the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills in Bloomfield Hills. I highly recommend going, as this is the last major tournament of the year and the final Ryder Cup qualifying tournament. The competition should be great, and it's one of the few events left where you get to walk the side by side with your favorite player. Although golf on TV might not exactly be a rip-roaring good time, watching a live PGA event is a great summer treat that everyone can enjoy.

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