When Bob Hope was the host of the Bob Hope Classic, there were times when he had almost nothing to do with the tournament. He was a busy guy, remember, what with movies and television and touring. And there was a board of directors to win the event. But as busy as Hop was, when the tournament needed him, he was there for a luncheon or a photo op or of course the tournament itself. He took the charities, especially Eisenhower Medical Center very seriously.
That apparently hasn’t been the case in Las Vegas, at least if you listen to the people who run the tournament’s charity arm. According to a story in the Las Vegas Review Journal by Steve Carp, that tournament will be severing ties with singer/actor Justin Timberlake after this year’s event. And the reason, it seems, is there is a disconnect between Timberlake and the tournament, Shriner’s Childrens Hospitals.
Quoting from the Review-Journal story . .
“We’re a world-class organization,” (Raoul) Frevel said. “At the time we got involved with golf, we were told by the Tour we needed a big name, and that’s how our relationship with Justin came about.
“Justin’s a wonderful person. But we tried everything we could to get him more involved with our kids and the hospitals. But it seemed that when the TV cameras weren’t on, he disappeared.”
Timberlake is hardly the only celebrity who was little more than a figure head for a tournament, although there has been no comment from Timberlake about the decision by the Shriner’s Childrens Hospitals to end their relationship. And Timberlake is hardly the first celebrity to host a golf tournament where the hope was he would bring bigger celebrities and better PGA Tour players to the event. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby could do that, but few others have succeeded. You may recall the two years George Lopez hosted the Bob Hope Classic, where there was little movement in the celebrity field and almost a step backward in the professional field. When Lopez left or was pushed out the back door at the Hope, there was talk that Timberlake would make a good replacement.
Timberlake, for at least this week, is the last celebrity to have his name on a PGA Tour event. The Vegas event is a tough sell for players, as it is part of the Fall Series and comes right after a tough run of tournaments from the PGA Championship and a WGC event in August to the FedEx Cup playoffs through the Ryder Cup. The chance of a Tiger Woods, a Luke Donald of a Phil Mickelson playing this week are pretty slim.
So it’s Bye, Bye, Bye to Justin in Las Vegas, unless something changes pretty quickly. And that might just be the last hurrah for celebrity hosts (other than Bill Clinton) on the PGA Tour.