Colorful umbrellas sprung up everywhere as rain pelted Park Meadows Country Club for the second straight day. The 20 golfers participating in the Lincoln Financial Group Pro/Celebrity Skins Game were trying to stay dry, but the tall familiar figure talking on his cellular phone wasn't bothered in the least.
When a caddy offered him an umbrella, Karl Malone declined, saying, "No, I love this - it's just like Alaska."Was that really Karl Malone, the man who disdains golf, out there playing the game, alongside some of the best golfers in the world? And was he actually enjoying something besides the rain?
Indeed, that was Malone out there wearing golf attire instead of his usual No. 32, having a grand old time. After spending much of the past month in Alaska fishing, he was suppposed to just emcee Tuesday's competition along with ESPN's Jim Kelly but ended up teaming with Isao Aoki in the alternate-shot skins competition.
The Mailman joined an eclectic group of celebrities that included former basketball players Mark Eaton, Ron Boone and Hot Rod Hundley, Olympic skiers Nikki Stone and Trace Worthington, ex-baseball players Joe Morgan and Bobby Grich, NFL Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud and L.A. Clippers forward/Malone best friend Isaac Austin.
Some of the celebrities were pretty good golfers - Grich, Boone, Morgan and Stenerud, in particular - while the tall guys - Malone, Austin and Eaton - kept the gallery on their toes with their unpredictable shots.
Not surprisingly the teams with the better celebrity golfers won the most money in the $20,000 competition as Grich and DeWitt Weaver won five skins worth $8,000, Boone and J.C. Snead won two worth $6,000, Morgan and Johnny Bench won a skin worth $5,000 and Stenerud and John Jacobs won a skin worth $1,000.
The competition took place on Park Meadows' back nine and was modified because of the heavy rains that hit the course the day before, leaving puddles in many places. Instead of playing the entire hole, most holes, except the par-3s, were shortened and played from the middle of the fairway. It still ended up taking nearly three hours to complete the peculiar event, which featured 20 golfers playing the same hole at the same time.
Malone's first drive went only a few yards, but at No. 15, he knocked a 4-iron close to 200 yards, earning applause from the crowd. However, the greens were another matter.
Despite lessons from Aoki, one of the best putters on the Senior Tour, Malone had little touch on the green. At No. 14, he had a 10-footer to win a skin. Aoki lined him up and the Mailman carefully eyed the putt, then sent it 12 feet past the hole. Oh well.
Austin hit a drive at 11 and looked down the fairway for it. However, it went straight up and back down moving forward just a few inches.
Eaton winced when his drive at 11 headed toward the condos, and he was embarrassed when his chip at 14 went right across the green and into the water.
There were plenty of good shots, even some by the celebrities.
After Boone picked up two skins for his team with a 10-foot putt at 17, no team could win 18. So a putt-off was held and Morgan rolled his the closest to claim the final $5,000.
Proceeds from the event went to help the Karl Malone Foundation for Kids.
SHOWDOWN NOTES: The team of Hugh Baiocchi and Walter Hall won the Gillette Tour Challenge Tuesday afternoon, defeating Bruce Summerhays and Walter Morgan in a playoff. The two teams had tied at 2-under in the six-hole alternate-shot competition. Baiocchi/Hall split $8,000 . . . Because of excess water at the designated public parking lot, parking for the general public will be located at the Deer Valley Ski Resort's lower parking area . . . The fifth alternate to get into the tournament is former PGA commissioner Deane Beman.