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Timberlake takes hands-on stance in annual event

The commercial is funny, yet it seems to accurately capture Justin Timberlake’s real life.

In the television spot, Timberlake is struggling to bring order to his myriad endeavors. Then, with a touch of a button — presto! — everything is organized.

But when it comes to Timberlake’s golf tournament, he has no magic button to push to bring the spectators out. However, it’s not stopping him from trying, and he will be visible this week at TPC Summerlin and in Las Vegas as the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open is contested.

“It’s really a challenge; I’m not going to lie to you,” said Timberlake, whose name adorns the event for the third consecutive year. “It’s not the easiest thing to put together, particularly with the time I have to devote to the tournament. I would love to do more year-round, but I’m committed to making it successful. I’m still very involved, and I love having it in Vegas. It’s a great stop.”

Timberlake is contractually bound to the Shriners through 2012. But he’s not counting down the days until the deal expires.

“As of now, I don’t have a time limit,” he said. “I want to grow the tournament. That’s what my mindset is. There is no timetable.”

Though the tournament doesn’t begin until Thursday, daily events connected to the event are scheduled, beginning today with a charity walk at 10 a.m. on the golf course and the annual kids clinic featuring Timberlake and noted golf instructor Butch Harmon at the driving range at 1 p.m.

On Wednesday, Timberlake’s annual pro-am will be held, and the celebrity lineup has been beefed up. Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie are among those scheduled to play.

On Friday, Timberlake’s concert at Planet Hollywood also boasts star power, as Elton John will join Timberlake on stage. The concert has raised more than $1 million for the Shriners in each of the past two years.

“I’m excited about this year,” Timberlake said. “With the concert, Charley’s (Hoffman) pro-am Monday, our pro-am Wednesday, the kids clinic, the concert, we’ve got a lot going on.”

The Shriners say they’re happy with Timberlake’s level of participation.

“There was a period early on where we were trying to get to know Justin and he was getting to know us,” said Gary Dunwoody, who oversees the event for the Shriners. “He’s been more and more accessible, and we’re very pleased with his involvement.

“I can tell you that Justin created $9.5 million worth of awareness last year. That’s the money that was generated through his involvement. It means people who didn’t know us now know us. He personally raised $1.5 million for us with his concert. He’s personally involved with every major decision involving the tournament.

“Frankly, he probably has maxed out his availability. But we’ve got no issues whatsoever with Justin. He’s been tremendous and enthusiastic about this.”

Like many people connected with the tournament, Timberlake thinks its best chance for growth and financial success is to move from the PGA Tour’s Fall Series to the FedEx Cup Series in the spring. He said he has talked to Tour officials, including commissioner Tim Finchem, about a schedule change for 2011 or 2012.

“I’ve made it pretty vocal that we want to be involved with the (FedEx) points race,” Timberlake said. “I’m still hopeful that if we continue to prove how great and classy this tournament is, we’ll be able to move to the spring soon.”

As for this year’s event, Timberlake said with the emergence of so many talented young players, the Shriners Open field is attractive, even for mid-October. Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler and defending champion Martin Laird have committed to play, as has veteran Jim Furyk, golf’s $10 million man who won last month’s Tour Championship in Atlanta and is the last player to win back-to-back in Las Vegas.

“I’m excited,” he said. “Watching the Tour of late, there’s a lot of young guns out there who are playing great golf. I think we’re going to have a fun, exciting week.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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