Celebrity golf tour keeps him in swing

    Tee Talk

    Hall of Fame bowler Marshall Holman continues to spend a lot of time in elite company, directing his ball and trying to knock down pins.

    But he's doing it on the golf course as a member of the Celebrity Players Tour, aiming the small ball at tall, skinny pins on the greens.
    — Holman, 48, added to what has been a memorable year this past weekend when he and former major league slugger Gorman Thomas tied for third in the Scott Thomason/Neil Lomax Quarterback Shootout at Heron Lakes Golf Course in Portland.

    Lomax's tournament isn't part of the CPT, but it's of a similar ilk.

    Holman, a — handicap at Rogue Valley Country Club, and Thomas, have long been friends on the tour that attracts sports and entertainment celebrities. They teamed up to shoot 6 under par in the two-man scramble format, tying Clyde Drexler and Marcus Allen but finishing well back of the top two teams.

    Jim Hart and Steve Bartkowski obliterated the 13-year tournament's record, going 14 under to beat by four shots the previous mark, which was last accomplished in 1999 by former Oregon quarterbacks Chris Miller and Tony Graziani. This year's runners-up, Mark Rypien and Dan Dickau, were 12 under.

    They just killed 'em, says Holman of the winners, both ex-NFL quarterbacks. We actually got off to a real good start, but we were in a holding pattern on the back nine. We didn't make any putts, and we actually finished with a bogey.

    Holman has played celebrity golf ' these days, from four to six events a year ' since 1990.

    Though there are more fans of major sports who turn out, the bowler regarded as one of the most talented and flamboyant in history doesn't go unnoticed.

    The reception is always great, says Holman. There are a lot of people who, even though I haven't been active for a while, remember watching me bowl or remember me doing the telecasts. There are a lot of people with footballs and basketballs (to be signed), but you see a few bowling pins.

    It was Holman's second year in the event. He and Thomas tied for fourth in 2002, two strokes behind Roy Green and, of all people, Charles Barkley, whose swing is, ummm, unorthodox.

    In talking about the generous fan support celebrity golf enjoys, Holman admits spectators have too much faith in the players.

    Sometimes, he says, they don't realize that what they're watching is celebrity golf, not professional golf. They're lining the tee boxes, and I'm not sure I'd put myself in harm's way like that.

    We have Charles Barkley. He might hit it anywhere. He has a very good driving-range swing; it's much more one-piece. But when he gets on the golf course, it gets a little funky.

    Still, Barkley was a hot commodity when 10 players were auctioned off, raising about &

    36;100,000 for charity. Other popular figures were Allen, Lomax, Jim McMahon and Truck Robinson.

    Holman was among those drafted last year, he says, largely because the person who bid on him was a 1970 Medford High graduate, two years before Holman.

    On the CPT circuit, Holman has a couple of highlights in the past year to go with two other recent and very memorable occasions: his marriage five weeks ago to the former Annette Jenner, and his defeat in January of eventual player-of-the-year Walter Ray Williams Jr. in the Medford Open.

    Two weeks ago, Holman played for the first time in Mario Lemieux's celebrity tournament ' among the best-run events ' tying for 36th with the modified Stableford scoring system. Not surprisingly, Rick Rhoden won it; somewhat surprisingly, Michael Jordan tied for third. Barkley was 61st and last.

    Last August, Holman, who rates himself a middle-of-the-pack player in CPT individual events, enjoyed his first celebrity victory. He teamed with Bobby Grich and Scott Sanderson in August to win the Tom Dreesen tournament in Lake Geneva, Wis.

    That was a blast, says Holman. I knew when we started that we had a chance, but I didn't think we'd win it.

    Each team had an A, B and C player, more or less leveling the field. Some C players, like Holman, were much better than others, however.

    The teams counted one best ball on the par 5s, two on the par 4s and all three on the par 3s. Holman's crew needed a birdie and par on the final, par-4 hole to tie Thomas' team, which included George Gervin and Ken Reitz, and force a playoff.

    On the 18th, Holman hit a very good drive and one of the worst 8-irons I could possibly hit.

    He pulled it 20 yards left and into a berm. Rather than settling near the cart path and leaving a difficult chip to the green, it caromed off the hill, bounced on the cart path and stopped some 20 feet from the hole.

    There are bad breaks in golf and there are good breaks, says Holman. When you get a good one, you don't bury your head in embarrassment. You try to capitalize on it. I was able to do that.

    He drained the putt, providing the birdie the team needed to go with a par.

    It was euphoric.

    For the next few minutes, says Holman, who was besieged by his jubilant teammates, it was like I was Tiger Woods. It was really cool.

    Holman and Grich parred the first playoff hole to nail down the victory.

    That's again one of the events on his summer slate. Before that, he'll tee it up in the Celebrity Champions Classic in Dayton, Ohio.

    It gives all the guys a chance to compete, Holman says of the tour, but the main objective is to entertain our amateur and corporate partners. They make it possible.

    If you want to see great golf, go watch Tiger and those guys play. If you want to see pretty good golf and spend a few days with sports celebrities current and past, then the CPT is a wonderful way to entertain your clients.

    Just don't line the tee box.

    Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail

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