The Loop

Kenny G, Chris Berman Win Celebrity Challenge

February 07, 2008

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif.--OK, so Bill Murray was missing and an elderly lady didn't get thrown into a bunker. Even the ice cream vendors were safe. Still, the annual 3M Celebrity Challenge on Wednesday at mostly sunny Pebble Beach Golf Links was its usual entertaining self. Six two-man teams contested for $29,000 in charity money, and the best golfer of the bunch and his partner--musician Kenny G and ESPN announcer Chris Berman, wearing a Maui Tacos hat--earned $26,000 for getting the ball up and down from behind the 18th green in the five-hole shootout.

Kenny G is a scratch player and takes his golf seriously. At least he tried to on the first tee until George Lopez cracked to the large gallery, "Any women with size-18 waist pants, please bring them up here for Kenny."

He is slender as a saxophone, but drilled his drive down the center of the fairway, drawing applause from the fans. Huey Lewis, Don Cheadle and Carson Daly also acquitted themselves well, while burly Kevin James, who is partnering in the tournament proper with even burlier John Daly, belted one long and left.

Poor Andy Garcia. A fine actor and tough 10-handicapper, he addressed his ball only to hear a voice (Lopez) shout from behind, "I love you Andy!"

Garcia backed off, identified the culprit and yelled back, "That's what you said last night."

Kevin Costner counseled first-time participant Eric Close.

"Just try to relax," he said. "Your adrenaline really gets pumping."

Then Costner sliced his tee shot into the trees.

Lewis, whose band "Huey Lewis & the News" still tours to appreciative crowds, simply loves golf. Asked to assess the state of his game, Lewis said, "You know, golf is the one thing in my life I keep getting better at." Lucky guy. He's an 11-handicapper and will team with buddy and fellow music buff Peter Jacobsen in the pro-am.

About the pro-am: For those of you sitting in the cold, looking forward to watching Saturday's featured foursomes on CBS, here's a preview of what most are predicting will be a sun-splashed day at Pebble Beach: Jason Gore-Carson Daly and Pat Perez and surfer Kelly Slater; Jacbosen-Lewis and Craig Stadler-Glenn Frey; Paul Stankowski-Garcia and Daniel Chopra-Lopez; Brandt Snedeker-Peter Ueberroth and Phil Mickeslson-Alan Mulally; D.J. Trajan-Costner and Jonathan Kaye-Thomas Gibson; Mathias Gronberg-Danny Gans and Brent Geiberger-Close; Bob Burns-Ray Romano and Daly-James; and Charley Hoffman-Kenny G and Dean Wilson-Cheadle. Don't expect to see much serious golf.

--Mark Soltau