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Rocker Seger joins Tiger at pro-am

GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Bob Seger stood over his ball at the very outer arc of the green, sweat soaking through his blue golf shirt. The Michigan rock ‘n roll legend narrowed his eyes, wiggled his hips and apprehensively eyed a long birdie putt on the fourth hole of the Buick Open Pro-Am tournament.

When the ball hit the bottom of the cup, the crowd at Warwick Hills burst into cheers and Seger fired off a fist-punch celebration made famous by the man standing on the other side of the green. Tiger Woods could only smile.

Seger and Woods headlined the pro-am program, and their fivesome finished 8-under par. At least one member of the group paid more than $100,000 for the opportunity to play with Woods and Seger, who were greeted after every hole by throngs of cheering fans.

In many ways, Seger was the main attraction. For a state in deep economic trouble and a tournament that seems likely to lose General Motors Co. as its principal sponsor, Seger’s presence was a powerful boost.

Seger, 64, graduated from Ann Arbor High School and now makes his home in the suburban Detroit neighborhood of Orchard Lake, winding down a bit from the height of his popularity in the 1970s and ‘80s. At the 16th hole, a home along the course had Seger’s 1978 hit “Old Time Rock ‘n Roll” playing loud and clear on a stereo system.

After playing a few holes with Seger on the course a year ago, homeowner Jeff Powell said he wanted to thank Seger for signing his son’s guitar.

“We had to make him feel at home,” said Powell. “Every person who came by said, ‘Turn it up.’ ”

While noise on the golf course is usually taboo, even Woods was in good spirits about the rock serenade.

“If I would have hit off the fairway with a bad drive, I would have blamed it on him. So I hit a good one, so he got the credit,” Woods said.

The course appeared to give Seger a slight home turf advantage. On 13, Seger fired an approach wide into a tree – only to see the ball rebound onto the fairway. On 18, Seger’s ball looked like it was heading for the water before inexplicably bouncing within a chip shot of the pin.

“He played great. I was surprised how well he played and how well he putted,” Woods said.

While he finished strong on 18, Seger faded noticeably down the stretch, struggling to hit strong drives on longer holes.

“I haven’t walked a golf course in 30 years,” Seger said afterward. “I’m a cart guy. I’ve never done that, ever So I’m very tired. I feel every 64 years.”

That didn’t bother Sue Babcock, 50, who got Seger to sign a red tournament hat after calling him over by yelling, “I’m an old rocker!” Having worked at the tournament for several years, Babcock has seen Woods before.

The autograph she really wanted was Seger’s, she said: “Bob Seger is bigger than Tiger.”

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