The worlds of pop culture and professional golf collide this week when Justin Timberlake kicks off his J.T. Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin.
And sadly, this will be the last year that the actor and pop star headlines the tournament.
According to USA Today's Maria Puente, Timberlake—whose name has been at the forefront of the tournament for the last four years—and Shriners Hospitals for Children are cutting ties after this year's festivities because, as tournament chairman Raoul Frevel told the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Steve Carp:
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.
As a result, next year, the tournament will be known simply as the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, according to the Review-Journal, and it will be featured as a part of the FedExCup playoffs.
That way, Frevel certainly won't have any trouble getting golf's biggest names to participate.
Here's a look at what to expect from the final edition of the J.T. Open.
Where: TPC Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nev.
When: Thursday, Oct. 4 to Sunday, Oct. 7
Golfers to Watch
Watney had a nice little run during the FedExCup playoffs, even if he couldn't sustain his early momentum throughout the entirety.
After winning The Barclays back in August, some thought that maybe Watney would be one of the surprise contenders in the playoffs, but from then on, he struggled, failing to finish better than a tie for 20th in the remaining playoff events.
But there are a couple of things working in Watney's favor here.
One is that he's from the area, and that always helps. Another is that he had an excellent outing at this tournament last year, leading through 54 holes but falling just short in the end, according to ESPN.co.uk. This could be his redemption.
There's no counting out last year's J.T. Open winner. It was Kevin Na who ruined Watney's near-victory in 2011, coming from behind for a two-stroke win.
All in all, 2012 has been an unremarkable year for Na. After being disqualified from the PGA Championship, he missed the cut at The Barclays, tied for 69th at TPC Boston and tied for 26th at the BMW Championship.
The playoffs were clearly a disaster, and the rest of the year wasn't much better: He has zero top-three finishes to his name in 2012, though he did finish with six top-10 finishes. And maybe TPC Summerlin still holds a little bit of magic for him.
Davis Love III
Now that the Ryder Cup is over, Davis Love can breathe again—as long as he can forget about the way the Ryder Cup ended. And there's nothing to take his mind off the U.S.'s epic collapse like J.T.'s golf tournament.
According to the Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner, Love was a late entry to the festivities and is likely playing as a favor to Mr. Timberlake. Throughout his career, he's spent plenty of time at TPC Summerlin: He's played here 19 times, most recently in 2010, according to Lavner.
There's a chance that Love could be a little rusty, though, given that he last played at The Barclays over a month ago and missed the cut back then. In fact, in three of his last four outings, he missed the cut. But maybe this is just what he needs to get back on track.
Notable Groupings for Opening Two Rounds (All Times ET):
|Day 1||Day 2||Golfer||Golfer||Golfer|
|3:13 p.m. ET||10:38 a.m. ET||Kevin Na||Jason Day||Davis Love III|
|10:28 a.m. ET||3:03 p.m. ET||Nick Watney||Charley Hoffman||Ryan Moore|
|3:03 p.m. ET||10:28 a.m. ET||Scot Stallings||Kyle Stanley||Johnson Wagner|
You can see a full list of tee times here.
TV Schedule (via PGATour.com)
|Thursday, Oct. 4||4 p.m. - 7 p.m. ET||GOLF|
|Friday, Oct. 5||4 p.m. - 7 p.m. ET||GOLF|
|Saturday. Oct. 6||4 p.m. - 7 p.m. ET||GOLF|
|Sunday, Oct. 7||4 p.m. - 7 p.m. ET||GOLF|
Prediction: Nick Watney Wins
He was so close last year, and maybe he still has a little bit of extra confidence left over from his semi-recent Barclays win. He's been successful here in the past, and he obviously is quite familiar with the area—so maybe that comfort will translate into a win.