Timberlake deserves mulligan for first event

Davis Love III was scheduled to tee off at TPC Summerlin at 11:50 a.m. Wednesday. He was playing in a group behind Olympic swimmer/Playboy cover girl Amanda Beard.

Which means Love just now might be playing his second hole.

The United States can add a 10th standard time zone to its list. Beard Standard Time. BST. It varies depending on how far each of her golf shots goes, which might depend on whether she hits them or chucks them down the fairway with her finest breaststroke.

"What do I do now?" Beard asked as she approached her third shot of the day, about 30 yards from where she hit the first. "Can I just scoop it up?"

It supposedly was her first time on a course. She played more for who the tournament benefits — children with severe burns, orthopedic conditions, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate — than to see if defending champion and playing partner George McNeill would follow the lead of the old lady in "Airplane!" and kill himself over waiting for Beard to finish a hole, unquestionably longer than any Ted Striker monologue.

Beard gave it her best shot. Or, by an unofficial media count, 184 of them. But I’m guessing this wasn’t what Justin Timberlake meant when he said the celebrities he invited to the Pro-Am portion of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open were people who could play.

Real golf begins with today’s opening round and a field that ranks among the best in recent times for the local PGA Tour stop, but Wednesday was when Timberlake’s universal status was expected to produce an A-list assemblage of celebrities, when galleries would swell with autograph seekers snapping digital photos, when children would skip school and adults call in sick to work and the course would become a mass of paying customers chasing stars for 18 holes.

It didn’t work out that way.

The second-biggest star next to Timberlake was talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, and she didn’t play. George Lopez was late for his tee time. Some said he overslept. Some said he injured a knee. Everyone agreed he’s not funny.

By the 10th tee, John O’Hurley — J. Peterman to all "Seinfeld" disciples — was said to have looked as though he worked in a practice run for the Las Vegas Marathon. Either that, or he traveled to Burma and back before making the turn.

My list of the top three celebs:

1. Timberlake

2. DeGeneres

3. Tina Kunzer-Murphy, mostly because the miracle she has performed in making the Las Vegas Bowl such an annual hit outweighs anything some actor has accomplished.

The truth: Timberlake’s standing in his first year as a tournament host who could land famous names underdelivered for a Pro-Am that has drawn the likes of Bill Murray and Joe Pesci and Alice Cooper, and that’s back when officials didn’t have a six-time Grammy winner making calls.

"I really didn’t have a crazy expectation as to who might show up this year," said Timberlake, whose first tee gallery of around 300 was about 290 more than any other celebrity. "With every facet of the tournament, I say, ‘This is the first year. Let’s learn everything we can and keep applying it to the years to come.’ "

Fair enough. Give him a mulligan. The point no one should forget is how much this event means to Shriners Hospitals. You could spend the next month trying to discover a more deserving beneficiary and couldn’t. They are 22 incredible places doing phenomenal things.

There were 240 local elementary school children at TPC on Tuesday receiving free dental care they couldn’t otherwise afford. The tournament puts the medical needs of children first. No amount of celebrities — even ones people actually recognize — could top that.

But the Pro-Am turnout should be better with Timberlake’s name attached. This week alone, Ray Romano, Jay Leno, Wayne Brady, Mary J. Blige, Donny Osmond and Brandon Flowers and his band The Killers are in town or are scheduled to be so. Some of them can play golf. I have no idea if they all can. They can’t be worse than Beard Standard Time.

"I don’t have a problem with the names (Timberlake) got for a first shot out of the box," said Ralph Semb, Chairman and CEO of Shriners Hospitals. "I hope in the future, we will see some bigger names. We need to make it a bigger draw for Las Vegas. What we got, I think is fine for a first year."

It’s a mulligan, and that’s OK.

Besides, BST just got up-and-down from the bunker on the par-4 10th, making a 14-foot putt before giving a little dance.

Someone wake Davis Love III up back there.

Ed Graney can be reached at 383-4618 or egraney@reviewjournal.com.

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