November 12, 2007–Taking a page from its history, the PGA Tour announced today that Justin Timberlake has become involved with the Las Vegas PGA Tour event, so much so that the event will now be called the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals For Children Open. Timberlake becomes the 14th celebrity in history to host a PGA Tour event, and joins the likes of Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. as those with close ties to the PGA Tour. The move, rumored for several weeks, is a way to continue to infuse new life into an event that has struggled to gain fans, especially now that it is a part of the Fall Series. Timberlake will play in a celebrity pro-am on Wednesday in addition to hosting a concert during tournament week. Timberlake is well-known for several things, among them bringing 'Sexy Back' in addition to winning both Grammy Awards and an Emmy Award. The Shriners also recently secured the title sponsorship of the event through 2012. The agreement with Timberlake also runs through 2012. Tournament week at Las Vegas golf course TPC Summerlin will be October 13-19, 2008.
"I couldn’t be more excited to host the upcoming 2008 Las Vegas tournament and to be involved with the Shriners Hospitals for Children," said Timberlake in a statement. "We will make sure to make this event unique and memorable, and we will raise money for charity while participating in the greatest game ever played. I thank the PGA TOUR and the Shriners Hospitals for Children this amazing opportunity. Raising money to better children’s lives while playing golf? I can’t think of a better way to pass the time."
Tournament Chairman Gary Davis says that Timberlake has long wanted to become involved with the PGA Tour, and that Las Vegas was a city where he wanted to do that.
"He is a great golf fan and a world-class performer who enjoys the game of golf and had made it known to the PGA Tour that if there was ever an opening he would be interested in pairing up," said Davis. "The city if good for him and so is the charity, and we are very excited about this. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Davis also said that details are being worked out about the concert and other events surrounding the week, but he and the tournament committee believe that with Timberlake and some of his A list friends supporting the event combined with the new format (no amateurs in the regular event and playing only one course) will work together to attract a higher level of PGA Tour player into the tournament, and therefore increase attendance and excitment.
So Timberlake (currently touring on the Future Sex/Love Show tour), Las Vegas, the PGA Tour, golf and the Shriners. In the category of odd pairings, this could be viewed as one of them, but it does show a true effort by event organizers to infuse new excitement and passion into the tournament. And despite his 'boy band' beginnings with 'N SYNC and possibly still maintaining that perception among older golf fans, Timberlake is now recognized as a major player in the entertainment industry who can potentially bring huge attention to the tournament. He is a movie star, music star and overall Hollywood player. And he is a true golfer who takes the game very seriously.
He boasts a membership at prestigious Sherwood Country Club in Los Angeles and is said to have a single-digit handicap in the six range. He has also played in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic Pro-Am and was the golfer with the biggest galleries. He also recently told TravelGolf.com writer Chris Baldwin that when touring he is always looking for the next best course to play.
"Every time I'm on the road, I'm looking for a course where we can play," said Timberlake. "We worked out a trip to much-buzzed-about Oregon resort Bandon Dunes. Getting to play courses like that just gets me going."
Timberlake also said he is more nervous playing in a pro-am than when performing in front of thousands on stage.
"I get way more nervous playing golf in front of 500 people than being on stage in front of 20,000 people," Timberlake told Baldwin. "I've been performing all my life pretty much in music. On stage, even if it's an outdoor concert with half a million people, I'm in my element. I know what it takes to put on a good show for the fans. Out on the course, you want to hit the ball well so badly, but there are so many things you don't have control over."
"The PGA TOUR is delighted to announce Justin’s involvement with our Las Vegas event," said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. "This promises to be an exciting and effective collaboration, one that will only raise the profile of the great work done by the Shriners Hospitals. The TOUR is proud of its history of improving the lives of people in the communities in which we play, and we are confident that the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open can be a leading example of that charitable mission."
In 2007, the event debuted the new, upscale VIP 'The Hill' experience and with Timberlake involved, who knows how big the party could get in 2008. The Hill is a dining/nightclub experience with televisions that overlooks holes 16-18 at TPC Summerlin.
Shriners Hospitals for Children is a network of facilities in North America that provides superior medical care at no charge to children under the age of 18. The first Shriners Hospital opened in Shreveport, LA, in 1922, and the network today encompasses 22 hospitals in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Shriners Hospitals are at the forefront of medical treatment and research in orthopaedic, burn and spinal cord injury care, and more than 800,000 young people are today able to lead better, fuller lives, thanks to the hospitals and medical services provided.