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Tiger’s commitment creates Buick furor

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DETROIT — The Tiger is coming to the Buick Open, which means the golf tournament might become a zoo.

Record crowds are expected to swarm Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club in Grand Blanc next week, when Tiger Woods will play in the Buick.

"We're selling tickets like crazy," tournament director Mike Mattucci said. "At the Buick Invitational early in the season, Tiger was defending champion, and sales went through the roof.

"Knowing ahead is the key. We were able to announce on media day, July 10, that Tiger was coming, and it created a ticket-buying frenzy."

Woods made a commitment to the tournament nearly a month ago, and that gave organizers the opportunity to advertise the fact that the world's No. 1 golfer — and biggest name in sports — was coming.

Marketing director P. J. Danhoff said ticket sales have more than doubled from seasons past and are on the verge of being tripled.

As of a week ago, the Buick had sold 20,000 more tickets than the entire advance ticket sale of last year, Mattucci said.

"That number has been climbing since," he said.

What kind of attendance does that project for the Buick?

It's difficult to tell because no totals have been announced in recent years. Before that, organizers did announce attendance, usually from 100,000 to 110,000 or so for the week.

But those estimates seemed inflated, and crowds likely were closer to 80,000 to 90,000.

The turnouts next week could well be a legitimate 200,000, and probably more, counting practice and the pro-am.

Woods is expected to arrive for practice Tuesday and play in the pro-am Wednesday. The tournament runs Thursday through Sunday.

"It's going to be crowded," Mattucci admitted, "and a large portion of the gallery will be following Tiger.

"Our field is really good. Certainly everybody talks about Tiger, but we've got Phil Mickelson, Hal Sutton, Davis Love, Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark O'Meara, Notah Begay, and so many others."

But Tiger is the big draw, so security has been beefed up and organizers are preparing for the increased crowds.