Scribbled souvenirs are the hot item at golf tourney
Kristen Gingrich of Portola, Calif., told her husband Tuesday, “my life is now complete,” after another man signed her visor.
Of course, this wasn’t just any man. It was Michael Jordan.
Gingrich, sitting in the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course grandstand, stayed clear of the crush of fans along the green trying to get autographs from Jordan at the practice round for the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship.
“We’ve tried every year,” said Gingrich, who has attended the golf tournament with her husband Michael for three years.
The basketball great had just finished a round at the tourney and approached the patient crowd along the rope from the 18th hole that afternoon.
Security officers instructed people to step back, as the mob resembled a concert crowd rushing the stage.
Pat Casarez, a principal at Roger Corbett Elementary School in Reno, yelled, “do it for the school,” and held out her event program.
Jordan obliged, and Casarez told her four students: “I got it.”
“I followed him all 18 holes,” she said, “and he said, ‘I’ll do it later sweetheart.'”
Jordan fans weren’t the only ones who scored autographs.
Former Denver Bronco quarterback John Elway approached a family at the 17th hole, and signed wild-eyed Brian Jelinski’s No. 7 jersey and three programs.
“I kind of got flustered,” said Candelaria Jelinski, Brian’s mother.
Avid Elway fan Jean E. Kammel, in full Bronco garb including sunglasses, became tongue-tied when she saw her hero that morning.
“I’ve been a fan forever,” she said. “I’ve always watched (the tournament) on TV and wanted to come. This is really kind of neat.”
Kammel set up a Bronco shrine in her Los Angeles home. And despite the occasional ridicule from co-workers and friends over her zealousness, she sought more memorabilia for her collection.
She glanced at her Bronco watch which showed her she had waited for the encounter with Denver’s ace quarterback for seven hours.
Many fans displayed patience Tuesday, as the sports and entertainment celebrities warmed up on the tournament’s first day.
Last year’s winner, ex-National Hockey League center Dan Quinn, sank a 3-foot putt on the 16th hole, and the fans applauded.
“I told you he’d do it,” golfer Susan Stanley of San Clemente, Calif., whispered to her male companion. “He’s serious.”
Toking on cigars and hearing the occasional “nice shot” from fans, Jordan, Elway and former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver-turned commentator Ahmad Rashad appeared to enjoy the competition and camaraderie as if returning to the glory days.
When Rashad was asked if he liked playing football better than announcing, he said: “One is play, and one is work.”