Friday, April 4, 2014 | 4 p.m.
NBA great Michael Jordan is almost as good at golf as he was at shooting three-pointers for the Chicago Bulls back in the day, and he proved it Thursday at his annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational pro-am golf tournament at our Shadow Creek Golf Course.
He’ll be back on the green again today before Saturday and Sunday’s finals and winner check presentations. Country music star Jake Owen, who will be at the 2014 ACM Awards and ACM events this weekend, was one of many celebrities and VIPs playing for Michael’s charity.
Jake won a golf scholarship to Florida State University but had to abandon it because of injuries, and that’s when he decided on his country music career with his debut album “ Startin’ With Me” in 2006. He’s taking a break from his current “Days of Gold Tour” for his Las Vegas visit.
John Smoltz, who has won Michael’s tournament the past two years here, played with Jake. Also sharing smiles with the basketball hero: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, MLB legend Ken Griffey Jr. and two Hall of Famers from Las Vegas — Greg Maddux (MLB) and Jonathan Ogden (NFL).
Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue of Donoghue Photography and L.E. Baskow of the Las Vegas Sun for their photo galleries at Shadow Creek.
Tonight, Michael hosts his red-carpet party for the celebrity golfers at Aria in CityCenter with entertainment by George Clinton and T-Pain. Check back over the weekend to Vegas DeLuxe for our additional coverage.
GOSSIP ON THE GREEN
Michael’s celebrity-pro-am portion ended its first day with a spectacular 25-foot eagle putt on No. 18 by NFL All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The Arizona Cardinals’ fan favorite led his team to a Day One win with a score of -17 under par, 55, one stroke better than two other teams who were tied for second with a -16 under par, 56. He also made a 35-foot putt midway through the round.
To start his day, Michael rolled up in his North Carolina blue signature golf cart. He had fun with his group, including daring one of his teammates to jump into the water at the 18th hole, and he did with Michael and the crowd laughing hysterically.
On Brandi Chastain’s 9th hole of the day, her second shot on the par 5 flew the green and hit a rake on the side of a sand trap. The ball bounced backward onto the green and rolled into the hole for an amazing two. The crowd roared, and Brandi pretended to take off her shirt, reminding fans of her celebration after her game-winning penalty shootout kick against China in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“The Real Housewives of Orange County” star Gretchen Rossi took pointers from fiance Slade Smiley before teeing off at the first hole. And after finishing his 18 holes of golf, Aaron threw his golf ball into the MJCI bleachers at Shadow Creek’s 18th hole. Earlier in the day, he was spotted throwing a football around with his Packers teammates on the 15th hole.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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