Friday, July 31, 2009

Welcome to the Tiger Vortex

It's unlike anything I've seen before, except I've seen it before. Wherever Tiger goes, the legions follow. If he sneezes there are two thousand "bless you" wishes. If he whispers a joke to Stevie, people who were nowhere nearby feign a laugh. And when he walk near a crowd, every single fan is certain he'll stop and sign and chat and perhaps come over for dinner.

This week at Warwick Hills, the most famous athlete on the planet is stirring crowds not just with his presence, but also with his stellar round 2 play - a 9=under par round of 63 to move from 95th place to 3rd.

It was a clinic in how to adjust from an opening 71 and another chapter in Tiger's legendary legacy in Grand Blanc. Let's just hope it's not the final chapter in the book.

On a perfect Friday at the Buick, this tournament is looking for a savior in the form of a corporation flush with cash and not afraid to flip the bird to Barney Frank and his bizarre liberal minions who think any form of corporate entertainment and charitable effort not born of gov't largesse, is a colossal waste.

I nominate Tiger and his foundation. Anyone second that motion?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Enjoy the Final Buick Open

It's a somewhat melancholy atmosphere hanging over the lush fairways and greens at Warwick Hills this week, as what is believed to be the final Buick Open is held. I've had the privilege not only of covering the tournament for nearly 2 decades, but also to work with a handful of the charities that directly benefit from the annual PGA event.

Tiger is in town this week, so the finale of the Buick will be festive. It's much to his credit that he is playing here. His direct impact will save the week financially and help the charities thank you to Tiger!

But it didn't have to be this way. Sure, the economy is hurting and Michigan is a wreck right now (in the process of being "blown away" as promised by our Governor). But I can't help but wonder what would have happened had the Big Three stood up to Congress when they were beaten down for being involved in entertaining, charitable contributions, and golf sponsorships. Just a few minutes of tongue-lashing from the Big Three CEO's back at the ridiculous Barney Frank, and perhaps golf sponsorship wouldn't have taken such a beating.

Whatever the hindsight analysis provides, I, for one, am sad to see our state's only PGA Tour event leaving. We'll enjoy this week to the fullest and then begin the process of lamenting its loss.

And I don't think it had to be that way. Do you?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tiger Is In!

Fantastic news released just moments ago by the Buick Open - Tiger has committed to playing the 2009 Buick Open!


GRAND BLANC, Mich. – Tiger Woods, who has carved out an unprecedented career since becoming a professional golfer in late summer of 1996, has officially committed to play in the 2009 Buick Open, scheduled for July 27-August 2 at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc.

“We are very fortunate and honored that the world’s No. 1-ranked player has decided to play the Buick Open,” said Larry Peck, national promotions manager for Buick-GMC. “There is no doubt that Tiger brings an elevated excitement level to Warwick Hills whenever he plays, and we are delighted to share the news with Michigan fans.”

Woods has had an historic impact on the Buick Open, having wrapped up two tournament titles in 2002 and 2006, and holding the record (along with Billy Mayfair) for lowest 18-hole score when he posted a 61 in the second round at the 2005 event. Woods has played at the Buick Open eight times, and has never finished lower than 11th. His last visit to the Buick Open was in 2006.

Woods has won 68 PGA TOUR titles, including the: 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005 Masters Tournaments; 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007 PGA Championships; 2000, 2002 and 2008 U.S. Open Championships; and 2000, 2005 and 2006 British Open Championships. He has already won three times on TOUR this season.

With his second Masters victory in 2001, Woods became the first player to ever hold all four professional major championships at the same time. He is the career victories leader among active players on the PGA TOUR, and also is the career money list leader.

The 2009 Buick Open field will compete for a record $5.1 million purse, including a $918,000 first prize.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Turning Back The Clock

Every once in a while, someone not named Tiger does something so special in golf that it brings even marginal fans running to the TV. It appears to be Tom Watson's turn to play the role of hero for the AARP crowd and everyone who loves the game.

To me, the most baffling aspect of his wonderful Open Championship run through 54 holes is not that someone his age is playing so well, it's the remarkable and undeniable way his game seems to be so perfectly suited for links play. Tom Watson is a savant when it comes to managing rough conditions, flighting his ball as winds dictate, and hoping for rain, gnarly fescue rough, and the chance to skirt the edges of bunkers that reach down to the depths of daylight.

I'm amazed and stunned by what he has done heading into the final round and hope he keeps it all together on Sunday. It may only require an even par round for our Huck Finn, Sr. lookalike to bring home yet another Claret Jug and the biggest headline in golf history.

Age, wisdom, excellence. A winning combination that is saving the day for ABC and making everyone forget about the absence of what's his name.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Simply Stunning

I've been spoiled, no doubt about it. The doors that have been opened with MGL Radio & TV often lead me onto the first tee of some of the world's most breathtaking courses. In the past 48 hours, the very best that America has to offer was on display in northern Michigan.

On Sunday, we shot an update to the popular Arcadia Bluffs MGL-TV program. With chopper overhead, the crew on the ground capturing the stunning scenery, and perfect weather, we made our way around the #10 Public Course in the US (Golf Digest). I can't even begin to describe how beautiful the entire scene was but can't wait to show it to you on TV in the days to come.

Monday morning's schedule was filled with a promotional shoot at Crystal Mountain Resort, in preparation for a special event we're hosting there Labor Day weekend. Rarely have I anticipated the conclusion of a shoot with such excitement because our next stop is listed in the Top 20 Courses In The World - Crystal Downs.

Another stunning day. Another stunning course. Another reminder of the blessings of life and the wonder of summer in Michigan.

I want to hear from you - what is the most scenic, stunning course you've played?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Choking On The Small Stuff

In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter. No hungry person is fed, no rogue nation is brought to heel, and we'll still keep marching this nation towards a Socialist status. So why on earth does it feel like the weight of the world is resting on the outcome of a 5 foot putt? Why does it seem like the evening news will be led off with a recap of what happened on the final hole of the GAM Net Team Qualifier?

A brief recap. In 2008, my playing partner Tom and I managed to combine our good play at just the right moments and won the championship over all other 2-man teams in the state. It was a very cool feeling to accomplish something in this often frustrating game of golf. Now, the challenge before us was the defense of that title.

Step one - qualify for the finals. So on Monday morning, we gathered at The Fortress in Frankenmuth. It's a course we're both quite familiar with. Close to home, straightforward layout, no surprises, the Fortress is an outstanding venue for championships and I was ready to get past the qualifying and prepare for a title defense.

But someone forgot to remind me that solid play was an important element in the equation. And as those moments of poor performance start to snowball, the pressure meter is climbing. When we came to the 18th hole, both Tom and I knew we were teetering on the brink of elimination and needed a par (net birdie) to solidify our chances. I hit what I thought was a perfect drive on the dogleg left par 5, but it came to rest at the base of a tree, forcing me to play out sideways. Tom had problems on the tee as well, so it all came down to me finding the green from 135 yards. The shot was blind over trees, but was right in my wheelhouse. Full wedge on the green, two putt for par/net birdie, and hope it was enough to get us in the finals.

And I chunked the shot into the front bunker, failed to get up and down, and carded a painful bogey. Sigh.

We missed the cut line by a shot and deservedly so. The champs played poorly, especially me.

It's a confounding game. Why do golfers magnify pressure to such an extent that it often paralyzes us from even a simple shot? How do we so quickly lose focus on the overall impact of the round? You didn't even know we were playing? The national news is focused on other topics.

Have you found a way to block out the pressure? Or have you stumbled just like we did? share your secrets here. The most insightful, humorous, well-presented response will win 2 tickets to the Buick Open.