2010 Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge

Our Lucky Stars

June 2010
2010 Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge: Our Lucky Stars - Wayne Gretzky, Mark Wahlberg, Drew Brees
A Hollywood hotshot, the Great One and the reigning Super Bowl MVP get their chance to break 100 at Pebble Beach

Unlike the hit-and-giggle pro-am events on the PGA, Nationwide and Champions tours, where pros play to win and celebrities play to amuse, the Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge is a way for some of the more competitive golfers among athletes and entertainers to learn how good they are. Our three stars for Year 3 of the Challenge, an event created by Golf Digest, the USGA and NBC Sports, will join the average golfer who wins the opportunity to play.

They'll all be trying to break 100--or maybe 90 and 80--in a count-every-stroke round on the Open setup at Pebble Beach. The round will be played a few days before the U.S. Open begins, and NBC will air it in a 90-minute special that leads into the network's final-round coverage of the Open on June 20.


We all know how marriage and four young children affect a golf game, but what if you're also starring in films and producing TV shows? If you're Mark Wahlberg, your golf handicap goes from 6 to 14. "Hey, I've been playing some very tough golf courses, like The International [in Bolton, Mass.]. That thing is 8,300 yards!" Wahlberg, 38, has four movies out this year, including "The Other Guys," with Will Ferrell this summer. He also starred in "The Lovely Bones," "Date Night" and later this fall, "The Fighter." Wahlberg has a mini-range and putting green at his Beverly Hills home, and he's hoping to play a lot leading up to the Challenge. "I'd really like to shoot something in the mid-80s, and if I play smart I can do that. But even if I shoot 150, it's OK, 'cause golf isn't how I make my living."



Pressure-packed golf at Pebble Beach won't be new for Wayne Gretzky, but this time he won't have a partner. Seven years ago, after a terrific Saturday round vaulted Gretzky and pro-am partner Mike Weir into contention at the AT&T, Weir came to the lunch table with a big smile. "I've got good news," he said. "This is something you dream about growing up."
"What's that?" Gretzky said.
"We're in the last group for the final round at Pebble Beach," Weir said.
"That might be a dream for you," Gretzky said, "but it'll probably be just another nightmare for me."
Gretzky spent Sunday trying not to disturb eventual winner Davis Love III and Weir, who finished T-3.
"By far the most pressure I've ever felt on a golf course," says Gretzky, 49, "and this Challenge will be even more. I just hope I'm not the first celebrity player to shoot over 100."


For a guy who made cash on a golf course while growing up in Austin, it's hard to believe Drew Brees didn't become a golfer until just before his junior year at Purdue, where he was a counselor at the school's golf camp despite knowing very little about the game. As kids, Brees and his brother, Reid, would gather balls from a creek that runs through nine-hole Hancock Golf Course and sell them to golfers for 50 cents to a dollar. "Then we'd take the money to a convenience store and buy baseball cards and Big League Chew," says Brees, whose top-five sports growing up were, in order, football, basketball, baseball, soccer and tennis. He beat Andy Roddick three of four times at age 12. At 31, he's the hottest quarterback in the NFL and hoping to break 80 at Pebble Beach: "I don't ever step on a course thinking I won't break 80."
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