POTOMAC -- Being the general chairman of a PGA Tour event is often equal parts salesman and social director when it comes to enticing the biggest names to play at your tournament. So what do you give a player who seemingly has everything but a private life?
Aside from the usual perks that include free food in the dining room, free telephone calls from the locker room and free use of a car for the week, that's about all Ben Brundred Jr. could offer Tiger Woods for coming to next week's Kemper Open.
The promise of a police escort to and from his hotel, as well as plainclothed officers and a battalion of volunteers helping him get around the course at the TPC at Avenel are perhaps the biggest perks the 22-year-old superstar can receive.
"We haven't done anything really [except that]," Brundred, the tournament's general chairman since 1986, said during an interview Tuesday in his office. "Our position on the schedule augured that he'd be here."
Though it won't become official until tomorrow afternoon, plans have been under way for weeks for Woods' first appearance in the Kemper Open. Brundred was told two months ago by the player's handlers at International Management Group that the tournament's position two weeks before the U.S. Open increased its chances.
A week ago, they gave him the best indication of all.
"They made some hotel reservations for him," said Brundred. "That's always a pretty good sign."
In this case, getting ready for Woods entails more than getting him here in the first place.
It means making plans for more off-site parking, since Woods usually brings an added 20,000 to 30,000 fans out to a tournament. It means putting up a entire interview tent to handle about 100 more media requests. It means increasing the number of concession stands and Port-o-Johns.
"We've ordered more of everything," Brundred said.
Parking remains the biggest conundrum. There are 15,000 parking spaces spread over the grounds of the TPC at Avenel, and the tournament will run free shuttles from the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg as well as from the Marriott headquarters and Montgomery Mall in Bethesda.
"It [off-site parking] was going to happen anyway for the weekend, with or without Tiger," said Brundred. "But now we're going to do it on Thursday and Friday."
Brundred estimates that there will be around 200,000 fans coming to the TPC at Avenel next week, up from a Kemper Open record 180,000 last year. The big crowds last year were attracted by a luminous field that was drawn itself in part by the tournament's proximity in time and distance to the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club the following week.
Asked if the tournament could bring in the kind of numbers that came out to watch Woods in Phoenix last year -- a reported 430,000, according to Phoenix Open officials -- Brundred said, "We're limited more by our parking than by our ability to see golf. I don't know what sold out is."
In terms of ticket sales, Brundred said recently that the tournament is some $200,000 ahead of last year.
There are also four more corporate tents at $40,000 a pop, double the number of double-sized tents at $50,000 each and two more banks of skyboxes, at the ninth and 17th greens, each with eight suites at $15,000 to $17,000. Brundred figures that the tournament will contribute "$460,000 or more" to charity this year.
And to think, Tigermania is supposedly waning. Executives at ABC recently blamed poor ratings for this year's Preakness telecast on the lead-in it received from the Byron Nelson Classic rather than a lackluster field at Pimlico.
Greg McLaughlin, general chairman for the Motorola Western Open, said recently that the response last year was much more manic than it has been this year. After getting a commitment from Woods six months ahead of time, McLaughlin recalled the reaction after Woods won the 1997 Masters.
"In the two days following the Masters, we sold $40,000 worth of tickets," said McLaughlin, who will have Woods back to his tournament in mid-July as its defending champion. "Obviously knowing in advance is a benefit."
Most are not that fortunate. Aside from the three U.S. majors, Woods is solidly committed to only a handful of other events such as this week's Memorial Tournament because of his relationship with host Jack Nicklaus as well as the Bay Hill Invitational in March, run by IMG and hosted by Arnold Palmer.
The rest, such as the Kemper Open, just hope to be fortunate enough to fall on his schedule.
And then, on the chance he might come, they get ready to give the player who seemingly has everything something he doesn't have.
A little privacy.
Where: TPC-Avenel, Potomac
When: June 4-7
Purse: $2 million (First, $360,000)
Defender: Justin Leonard
Yardage: 7,005 yards; par 71
Tickets: (Through Sunday) Season grounds $120; season pavilion club $160; any one-day book of 10, grounds $250; pavilion club $320; any one-day ticket practice $10; tournament day $27; pavilion club $38. (After Sunday) Practice $10; daily $30; pavilion club $40.
Pub Date: 5/28/98