Jesse Ventura has several spirited ideas on how to improve his golf |

Jesse Ventura has several spirited ideas on how to improve his golf

Having carved his niche in life with his muscle, former World Wrestling Federation star Jesse Ventura says it’s difficult for him to relax in golf.

“I’m used to doing very physical things, where you rely on muscle a lot. Golf is not a game of muscle, per se, it’s a game of timing and tempo. The harder you swing, the worse you’re going to do, generally. So I’m forever battling to slow it down and relax,” said the 47-year-old Minnesota governor, who will make his American Century Celebrity Golf Championship debut this weekend.

And Ventura has some ideas how he accomplish this.

“People have cups of coffee, but I’d probably do better with shots of Jack Daniels before I golfed,” Ventura said.

But as it turned out, Ventura was only warming up. During a backup on the 11th hole, he wondred out loud what the holdup was. When told that (Melrose Place star) Jack Wagner’s group was in front of him, Ventura said: “Wagner must have seen a mirror, that’s why we’re not moving. Why would anyone want to watch a Hollywood (guy) anyway, when there are all these prime athletes around?”

Defending champion Mario Lemieux is halfway satisfied in two of the off-season rule changes in the NHL.

Following the controversial overtime goal in the goal crease by Brett Hull to clinch Dallas’ Stanley Cup win over Buffalo last month, the NHL has decided to eliminate instant replay of questionable goals.

“I was always against that rule. If a player was in the crease and he wasn’t interfering with the play, that should have been a goal,” Lemieux said. “There has been a lot of controversy the last couple of years because of that rule, and I’m very happy they took it out. Partially so, because I think it’s going to make the game more exciting for the fans. For the last few years they saw goals that they weren’t sure if they were really goals.”

However, Lemieux doesn’t like new 4-on-4 rule for overtimes.

“I’m not sure about that one. Hockey has been played (5 on 5) for a long, long time, so to change, I’m not sure that’s the best way to go about it,” he said.

And don’t expect him to become the first player-owner.

“No chance,” he said.

New Orleans Saints head coach Mike Ditka has his own theory as to why so many pro quarterbacks are now playing golf at such a high level. Unlike others who maintain that hand-eye coordination and timing are the key, Ditka’s theory is this: “They just have more time on their hands than other athletes. They’re pampered … they’re always playing golf. Quarterbacks are the pampered children of life.”

Of his own game, Ditka wishes he could develop more consistency.

“My game is extremely spooky,” he said. “It’s great or it’s terrible, and I never know which it’s going to be. I wish that were not the case but it is.”

And what of the perpetual question which is posed to Ditka wherever he goes … the status of rookie running back Ricky Williams?

“That has its upside,” Ditka said. “Whenever I’m asked about the draft, I can just say ‘Ricky’s fine.’ That saves time.

“But Ricky can’t play golf so he’s no use to me today.”

Among the most consistent performances at the tournament so far has been that of the growing number of autograph seekers. Some have been roaming the course since Tuesday, having collected signatures from nearly every participant.

“The only one I’m missing is Wayne Gretzky,” said Chris Anton, 12, of South Lake Tahoe. “Everybody is really friendly and it’s been no problem.”

Anton was more succesful than most – he handed a camera to Jerry Rice at the first tee, and Rice allowed him past the ropes to have his picture taken with him. He then signed Anton’s hat.

Other than that, Chris and his friend, Brian Hanson, 12, prized their Dan Marino and John Elway signatures above all others. “Marino was nice,” Hanson said. “If you’re nice to the players, they’re usually nice to you.”

Gretzky, however, may be a tough autograph to get this weekend. The hockey great is always surrounded by autograph hounds, many of whom are carrying photos and posters for him to sign. He was even mobbed at Caesars Tahoe on Wednesday night as he was trying to get onto the elevator to go to his room.

“This (autograph seeking) has become a business,” said Elway on Wednesday. “I like to sign for the kids, but then you sometimes see them run off and make deals right afterward. But if it wasn’t for them then there wouldn’t be this interest in us. So you have to do it.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback John Brodie, who passed for more than 31,000 yards and 200 touchdowns in his 17-year NFL career, teed off on Thursday at 7:35 a.m. on the 10th tee. The next group off the 10th tee, at 7:45 a.m., was led by University of Florida football coach Steve Spurrier. For those perhaps too young to appreciate the irony, Spurrier was Brodie’s backup with the 49ers for several seasons – some of which included some classic quarterback controversy issues with the media and the fans. Spurrier never quite broke Brodie’s grip on the starting position then, and on Thursday he found himself following in Brodie’s footsteps one more time.

Former All-Pro running back Marcus Allen, on playing at Tahoe: “This is my third year here, and it’s just extraorinary. The beautiful setting is what makes it so special. Plus, I don’t think a lot of people realize the amount of talent in this tournament. There are some great players here, and I love a challenge.” … Ditka, to tournament autograph hounds on the 15th hole: “Beat it you rascals, you’re starting to get on my nerves!” He then sped away in his cart. … Two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Mark Rypien, on reports that he might be headed to San Diego to relieve the shaky Ryan Leaf quarterback situation: “Yeah, I’m going to San Diego, on vacation. That’s it.”

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