Being a professional basketball player certainly has its benefits and pluses.

Who'da thunk becoming an improved and avid golfer would be among them?

But that's the case for Deron Williams, who earmarks some of his spare time and sums from his NBA paychecks to enjoy his hobby.

My, how things have changed for the Jazz's point guard, who was as excited to chat about golf as he was basketball Monday at the second-annual Deron Williams Celebrity Golf Classic.

"I never watched golf," he said at his charity event. "I used to think it was boring."

That changed, he admitted, when he started picking up his golf game (an everyday occurrence now).

NBA commissioner David Stern probably doesn't want to hear how the Olympic gold medalist's sports-viewing preferences have changed.

"I like watching golf more than basketball now," Williams said.

And, yes, that means Williams was in links heaven Sunday when the Americans' Ryder Cup squad proved worthy of his Olympic basketball club's "Redeem Team" nickname.

At first, Williams admitted he "didn't have a lot of confidence" in the Tiger-less U.S. team. But, he added, that changed when he saw "how inspired they were" while playing the Europeans in Kentucky. He even thought the American golfers might have benefited from the world's best golfer not being there.

"I think Tiger (being) off the team helped a little bit," he said. "It's a little intimidating when Tiger's your partner. It took a lot of pressure off them."

At Monday's tournament, Williams was joined by Jazz teammates, management and other celebrities. He said Kyle Korver is probably the Jazz's best golfer, followed by assistant coach and former player Ty Corbin. Williams ranks himself as being third-best, though he's heard through the grapevine that newly acquired guard Brevin Knight is "pretty good, too."

Williams' golf strength is the longball, though he admitted his shots veer to the right sometimes. But he's working on that part — and other aspects — of his swing daily, either at home or at a course or at home on a course.

"I have a simulator in my house. I have indoor and outdoor putting greens. I play every day. Even if I don't go to a course I can still play. I can still play this course (Thanksgiving Point). I can play Pinehurst No. 2 and No. 8, Spyglass, Pebble Beach," he said.

"I'm always playing, always swinging somewhere."

Which means, of course, Boise golfers shouldn't be surprised if they're joined on the greens next week by some pros who love the course and the courts.


E-mail Jody at Jody@Desnews.com