June 7, 2008–It would be easy to throw Justin Timberlake under the bus today for not representing Las Vegas golf very well en route to shooting a 27-over par 98 in US Open conditions on the Friday before the big boys tee off at Torrey Pines next week. Very easy, especially considering he's about a six handicap. But we won't because in life and golf it's not how you start, it's how you finish and Timberlake went 'Jordan' over the final few holes to shoot a 'respectable' 98. Timberlake was one-fourth of a foursome that featured The Today Show host Matt Lauer, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and amateur golfer John Atkinson. They took up a challenge thrown down by Golf Digest to try to and break 100 on a US Open layout. Timberlake, who for the next five years will be the host of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open played in October at Las Vegas golf course TPC Summerlin, reportedly finished with two pars and two bogeys on the final four holes to shoot the 98 and beat the challenge. Timberlake was helped by Las Vegas golf's Butch Harmon, who operates the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Rio Secco Golf Club.
But we have to admit, we like the guy's mettle because you and I know that when you get to a certain point and things are going south fast, it's easy to lose control and go completely and utterly off course, even if you have a goal in mind. So for Timberlake–who is very involved in the details of his PGA Tour event and has donated personal money to the cause–to keep it together and shoot under the goal gives him a positive check mark in our book.
He was standing on the 15th tee at 25-over par for the round, and knowing that he possibly was about to go down in infamy worldwide as the "Boy bander who has a six handicap that can't break 100", but he stepped up, stopped the bleeding and finished the tough finishing holes in two-over par, including making a par on the par 5, 18th hole with tough rough, bunkers and water everywhere. Plus, he was reportedly in the mid 50's after nine holes, well off the pace needed to break 100.
"It's just inhuman, how well they strike it," Timberlake told reporters about the appreciation he has for PGA Tour players.
He also commented that he went into "Michael Jordan mode" over the last few holes in order to finish under the dreaded 100. Pardon him for using the wrong sport's analogy–shouldn't he have said Tiger Woods mode?–but the fact is he enjoyed the day and did do Las Vegas golf proud.
Now hopefully he steps up even more in October and helps solidify the PGA Tour's success in Las Vegas. Possibly even a bigger challenge than breaking 100 at Torrey Pines with the world watching.
Tony Romo shot 84; Matt Lauer knocked in a 20-footer on 18 for 100 on the number and Atkinson shot a 114. The event will be shown on NBC prior to the final round of the US Open on Sunday, June 15.
Timberlake is in year one of a five-year deal to be the host of the Las Vegas PGA Tour event that this year will be played for the 26th time in a row.
PHOTO: PGA Tour file photo