Las Vegas, Nevada (April 2, 2012)–Michael Jordan and his friends once again partied and played golf in Las Vegas this past week with the second playing of the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitatonal in the Las Vegas Golf Region. At the end of the day, a lot of money was raised for charity, and John Smoltz and Brandi Chastain walked away as the winning team in the celebrity competition. Here is a look back from Las Vegas, Shadow Creek, and ARIA. –By Brian Hurlburt.
“We play these tournaments for a good cause, but when we get out here on the course, we all are competitive and want to win,” said Smoltz, the former baseball all star. Chastian, who was quoted in a tournament video prior to the competition stating she was "coming after Michael", was playfull when asked after the round if it was, in fact, sweet to defeat the hoops legend on the golf course. “It’s not about beating Michael," Chastain said with a wink and a smile after her and Smoltz' victory.
The MJCI was played at Las Vegas' Shadow Creek, and is the only time in the course's history that the general public has been allowed on the course as spectators. But Shadow Creek is, in truth, open to all golfers all the time. The only catch is you must stay at an MGM Mirage hotel property–ARIA, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mirage, etc.–and pay the green fee. Click now for the official website of Shadow Creek for more information and look at the golf course.
The winning duo, who shot a two-day total of six-under par, 138, overcame a difficult performance on the front nine to secure the title. Leading the tournament after day one by two strokes over eventual second-place finishers Roger Clemens and Ahmad Rashad (-1, 143), Chastain/Smoltz fell behind by one after eight holes. The fan favorites were able to retake the lead after Clemens/Rashad double-bogeyed No. 13; their competitive nature took over later in the round when Smoltz sank an impressive, 20-foot putt for birdie on the 16th hole, clinching the victory.
Other highlights from the Las Vegas golf event:
— Smoltz, taking a moment out during his final round to encourage a youngster to throw some bread to wildlife at Shadow Creek. The moment occurred on the par 11th hole, a lucky spot for Smoltz. A couple years ago, and prior to the renovation of the course, Smoltz aced the par 4, becoming the only golfer in the history of Shadow Creek to record a hole-in-one on a par 4.
— Smoltz, driving the golf cart, whizzing past Chastain after hitting their tee shots on the 10th tee. Smoltz stopped quickly after realizing his mistake. "You blended in," Smoltz said to Chastain, who was busy signing autographs. Smoltz was looking for Chastain, who was hitting from the up tees–there are no official ladies tees at Shadow Creek–but she blended into the gallery while signing autographs.
— Actor and producer Ashton Kutcher brought his skills to the golf course today, serving as Michael Jordan’s caddy. Though Kutcher was clearly enjoying himself on the course, he also made sure to fulfill his caddy duties by pulling clubs, reading greens and providing words of encouragement to Jordan. He even occasionally threw grass in the air to gauge the wind direction, between signing autographs for fans and joking around with Aaron Rodgers, Brian Baumgartner and Dwight Freeney, who were part of the Jordan foursome.
— Jordan and Rodgers playing the 9th hole while enjoying cigars and music playing on Jordan's official "Carolina Blue" golf cart, complete with the Jordan brand logo. On the hole, "The Office" star thrilled the gallery with a flop shot from the rough on the short, left side of the green. The ball landed on the green, just deep of the hole and then rolled back to within a foot of the cup, just missing going in the hole.
— Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman on the red carpet of the evening event, complete with martini in hand and a showgirl on each arm.
— It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s NFL superstar Aaron Rodgers driving what spectators called the “best shot of the day” on Shadow Creek’s very first hole. Rodgers’ luck continued throughout the two-day tournament; when he knocked in a birdie putt on No. 5 his entire team tackled him in celebration.
— ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon said in an interview that “every kid in Chicago, ages 5 to 50, idolizes Michael Jordan as the best sports player of all time because of the impact he left on the city.” Wilbon joked that his five-year-old son asked him if Jordan will ever retire.
— Actress/model Angie Everhart spotted a pint-size beauty queen among the spectators and offered to let the eight-year-old tiara-wearing princess putt her ball on the 9th hole. The ecstatic young girl leaped at the chance, but got stage fright once she got to the green and shyly handed the putter back to Everhart. Later in the day, Everhart exclaimed that meeting fans and sharing experiences was “the best play of my game today.”
— Even after years of marriage, “the Great One” still aims to impress his wife. While in conversation on hole 9, Janet Jones-Gretzky ducked as the team behind her yelled “fore!” and a golf ball flew overhead, landing within feet of the hole. Instantly suspicious, she asked, “Was that Wayne?” After confirming that husband Wayne Gretzky hit the beautiful shot, she said knowingly, “He’s showing off for me.”
— NHL wonder Brett Hull must’ve been excited about his shots for the day, as he literally skipped his way to Hole No. 9 where he earned a par.
— When a golf ball was tossed to World Cup champion Brandi Chastain, she instinctively tried to stop it like a soccer ball, prompting jokes about her attempt at creating a sports crossover. Chastain sparked laughs on day two when she warned onlookers to “back up because this ball can go anywhere!” as one of her teammates stepped up to putt.
— Uncharacteristic of a pitcher, former Atlanta Braves’ star John Smoltz smashed a 300-yard drive down the No. 1 fairway, starting an amazing second day in the tournament.
— Cedric the Entertainer began his round with a fake English accent yelling, “Good Morning! Don’t mind the accent, sometimes it just feels right.” Chuckling to himself he later remarked, “I don’t know where that came from.”
— Although normally quiet, Shadow Creek has been anything but during the MJCI. The music was bumping and celebs were dancing as their favorite music played during every swing of the celebrity-am event the first two days, compliments of built-in stereos on their golf carts. Hockey all-star Gretzky’s team was seen dancing to Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything” and later blasting Pink Floyd. Aaron Rodgers’ team sported a shiny red cart blared NE-YO’s “Because of You” on the 17th hole.