TOWNSHIP, MICH. - As the boom generated when Tiger Woods' driver
smashes a golf ball echoed around Warwick Hills, another rumble
Flocks of fans on
either side of the fairway started heading downrange from the 15th
tee to watch Tiger's next move. Only one problem: The rest of
Woods' trio had yet to hit their drives and the lurching crowd of
fans proved a loud distraction.
yelled marshal Scott Mcleod plaintively. "Hold after the
Later, he added:
"All the golf etiquette leaves their minds as soon as the
ball leaves (Woods') club."
Knowing it may be
a decade before Woods is back in Michigan, the fans at the Buick
Open are soaking in every last bit of his game. From ogling his
stature as he walks down the fairway to roaring after his smooth
putts find the bottom of the cup, watching Tiger has become a
sport in itself at Warwick Hills.
While his torrid,
9-under 63 morning round made his entourage giddy, there is more
than a bit of melancholy in the air: For longtime Buick Open
marshals and fans, it's also Tiger's farewell tour.
Seizing a moment
of relative quiet, Bonnie Hafner called out to Woods as he walked
up the 12th fairway, earning a smile and a wave.
"is why we got up so early in the morning to come out
here," said Hafner, 54, of Rochester, Mich. "I felt bad
because I thought I disturbed him."
was in a groove. Moments later, he drilled a course-electrifying
chip-in for eagle.
The fan response
that Woods evokes is a boon even for his playing partners.
great atmosphere to play in," said Jeff Arnold, who played
with Woods on Friday. "Obviously, sometimes you feel like
they're not watching you, but they end up rooting for you if you
end up playing good."
birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie start did much to dispel an
uninspiring 1-under effort Thursday and his missed cut at the
British Open two weeks ago.
behind the rope on 16, Randy Flynn asked his grandkids, Kyra, 12,
and Aidan, 8, if they ever thought they'd get so close to Tiger
Woods. Wide-eyed, they shook their heads. "No way," said
only sporting event you can be as close as that" to a
superstar, Flynn, 57, said. "He's more than a golfer, he's a
Part of watching
Woods up-close is the realization that television doesn't do his
As Tiger surveyed
the fourth green at Wednesday's Pro-Am, 10-year-old Robert
Ferguson couldn't believe Woods' thick biceps.
how big he is," Ferguson, of Bloomfield, Mich., said.
"He's built like a dinosaur."
If reports that
General Motors Co. is pulling its sponsorship of the event after a
half-century of support prove correct, Michigan will be without a
PGA Tour spot for about a decade, when the famed Oakland Hills
Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., could host the U.S. Open.
On the edge of
what may be an almost decade-long drought, having Tiger Woods
around is of significant consolation.
tournament does end, what a way to go," said Aidan O'Donnell,
51, a 13-year Buick Open marshal.
stroll off the 14th green after making a birdie, he paused.