World-renowned “hitters” Ken Griffey, Jr. and Winky Wright brought their skills to the golf course over the weekend and emerged victorious in the celebrity-amateur tournament of the 11th annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational (MJCI) at Shadow Creek Golf Course, hosted by ARIA Resort & Casino.
Working in concert with their respective foursome of amateur golfers, Griffey, Jr. shot a 19-under par 53 in the first round of the celeb-am Thursday, while Wright’s team shot a sensational 22-under par 50 during Friday’s second round. Griffey, Jr.‘s team tied host Michael Jordan’s foursome but earned the win via tiebreaker.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM MJCI CELEBRITY-AMATEUR COMPETITION:
- The legend himself, Michael Jordan, was in great spirits during MJCI’s celebrity-amateur tournament, driving around Shadow Creek in a Carolina blue No. 23 golf cart blaring R&B tunes. Following an incredible drive on the 18th fairway, a spectator shouted to Jordan that he should “show Tiger [Woods] a thing or two [about golf].” Jordan chuckled and answered, “I’m not stupid!” and followed it up with, “Let’s play 18 more!”
- 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 first two days of MJCI. The music’s bumping and celebs are dancing as their favorite music plays during every swing, 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.
- Luck was on Julius “Dr. J” Erving’s side at the 18th. Like a scene out of a movie, Dr. J showed his smooth moves when his third shot ricocheted off a rock in the lake, bounced back onto the green and rolled five feet from the pin. The crowd went wild!
Returning to Shadow Creek, MJCI marks only the second time the exclusive golf course will open its doors to the public. Proceeds from the charitable tournament will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, UC San Diego Nevada Cancer Institute, James R. Jordan Foundation, Opportunity Village and Cats Care, the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats’ charity arm. Since its inception in 2001, MJCI has raised more than $6 million for charity.
MJCI celebrities in attendance include Michael Jordan, Ne-Yo, Marcus Allen, Brian Baumgartner, Jerome Bettis, Brandi Chastain, Chris Chelios, Eddie Cibrian, Roger Clemens, Vince Coleman, Julius Erving, Angie Everhart, Joey Fatone, Marshall Faulk, Terry Francona, Wayne Gretzky, Janet Jones-Gretzky, Ken Griffey, Jr., Penny Hardaway, Brett Hull, Toni Kukoc, Mario Lemieux, Sugar Ray Leonard, Greg Maddux, Win McMurry, Joe Morgan, Paul O’Neill, Maury Povich, Ahmad Rashad, Salli Richardson, LeAnn Rimes, Aaron Rodgers, Stuart Scott, Bruce Smith, Ozzie Smith, John Smoltz, Matt Stafford, Michael Strahan, Jason Taylor, Alan Thicke, Bon Jovi's Tico Torres, Brian Urlacher, Michael Wilbon, Winky Wright, Adrian Young and more.