The Loop

'It would be like taking the...Tigers out of Michigan'

May 12, 2009

The smaller markets on the PGA Tour are often among the most passionate, the Flint, Mich., area among them. The Buick Open has been a PGA Tour mainstay since 1958, when it debuted as the Buick Open Invitational, but its contract runs out in 2010, and the tournament is aggressively attempting to demonstrate the value of extending the contract.

Toward that end, Michigan native Tim Allen, the comedian who played Tim the Toolman Taylor on the television show "Home Improvement," has done a radio commercial for the tournament that will air in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, part of an effort to show the PGA Tour and Buick officials "how much this event means to our community and our local charities," Jerry Preston, president of the Flint Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in a news release.

"Heath Leighton of Flint Township said even in the hard economic times, officials should do as much as they can to keep the Buick Open around," the Flint Journal writes. "'It's a tradition,' he said. 'It would be like taking the Detroit Tigers out of Michigan.'"

Or not. But it does have a long and rich tradition and has produced a variety of winners that rank among the finest in the game's history, including Billy Casper, Hale Irwin, Lanny Wadkins, Ben Crenshaw, Vijay Singh (three times) and Tiger Woods (twice).

Given General Motors' difficulties, the odds are stacked against Flint. Here's hoping that civic pride helps narrows the odds.

-- John Strege