The economic downturn in America has found its way into the sporting community as the monetary woes that is engulfing the entire world has knocked out an excellent event on the PGA Tour.
As General Motors recovers from its bankruptcy proceedings, which by the way saved the wayward manufacturing giant, it can ill afford to spend funds on entertainment and non-essential things.
GolfWeek Magazine reported on its web site that GM would end the PGA Tour’s longest partnership, and the Associated Press confirmed it with a person briefed on the decision.
Susan Docherty, general manager for GM’s Buick and GMC brands, said she is giving Buick-GMC’s national promotions manager Larry Peck 90 days to figure out the company’s future with the sport.
“There’s been a long history between Buick and golf and there definitely will be a connection going forward,” Docherty said. “What we need to do is stop and evaluate our future.”
Spending about $7 million on a golf tournament in Michigan might not be part of the plans.
Woods in the post-event press conference acknowledged that even he was thinking about the fate of this tournament.
“I’ve played here every year since 1999,” Woods exclaimed. “I did not play the last two years because I was at home for the birth of my child, and last year all knew my knee was in need of repair.
“With all that is going on in this area, it is amazing how the fans have come out to support golf. I know this is a sports crazed state and they have supported this event.
“I’ve played all around the world, and I’ve never seen a day like this. This event has always been special, but today was something else. The crowd was electric and because of the way the course is made, you could hear the 17th (hole fans) no matter where you were on the course.”
Woods, who also won the 2002 and 2006 Buick Open, shot a 3-under 69 and coasted to a threeshot victory with a 20-under 268 total at Warwick Hills, which hosted its first Buick Open in 1958 and appears to have staged
its final one Sunday.
Those that read the Michigan Chronicle know when Woods comes to the Buick I set sail with him traversing the entire course. I’m lucky enough to get a media pass that allows me to be inside the ropes and walk the entire
course with the man most acknowledge as the best golfer on the planet.
On the 17th I saw Woods do something he almost never does. One of his strengths is that he gets in the zone and completed focuses on the task at hand, but he acknowledged that he was into the moment and well aware of the importance of this event to the fans in Michigan.
Woods said as he walked up 18 he knew it may be his last at Warwick
Hill. As a result, Woods did his best Satchel Paige impression and tossed his golf ball down the fairway to fans. He also acknowledges the gallery at 17 by throwing them his ball, too.
“I never do that, but today was different,” he said. “We may not be coming back here, and I wanted to thank all these people.”
One of the cool things about walking the golf course inside the ropes with Woods is that I get to hear all the fans rant and chants as he traverses from hole to hole. Some of the fans retorts were: “You sponsor the Buick Tiger”
“Thanks for coming Tiger” “I love you Tiger” ”I like your video game Tiger” “Those are some sweet shoes Tiger” and the best came when Tiger accepted the over $900,000 winner’s check and a fan yelled, “Tiger, you can buy a lot of diapers with that check.”
With the win Woods improved to 36-1 when he has the outright lead after 54 holes. He has four wins this season -- twice as many as anyone else on the PGA Tour -- in just 11 starts since returning from knee surgery.
Woods now has 69 career wins; he trails Jack Nicklaus (73) and Sam Snead (82) on the all-time list. He got to No. 69 almost seven years quicker than Nicklaus and eight years sooner than Snead.
Dating to the 2006 British Open, Woods has won 21 of 39 starts on the PGA Tour.
Woods’ win at the Buick was special because he went from a tie for 95th to a victory, the largest jump he’s made from the first round in a tournament he ended up winning.
One last walk with Tiger in Michigan’s only yearly PGA Tour stop was memorial indeed. In a state that in third in the country in the number of golf courses, it was a great ending to a sad ending.
Leland Stein can be heard on 107.5 every Sunday from 11 p.m.
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