FARMINGDALE, N.Y (AP) — Michael Jordan is human. He’s normal. He’s just like anybody else.
When it comes to golf, Jordan insists all that is true. He played in the U.S. Open Challenge with Ben Roethlisberger and Justin Timberlake on Friday at Bethpage Black, and through two holes, he was trailing the contest winner who finished out their foursome, a Phoenix police lieutenant.
Jordan hooked his first tee shot way left and had to take a drop because of an unplayable lie. He triple-bogeyed No. 1 and double-bogeyed the second hole.
“Man, I was so tight it was amazing,” Jordan said. “I could not get loose to save my life.”
But as he noted when it was over, he’s always been a second-half finisher. Jordan was 4 over for the back nine to finish 16-over 86.
Roethlisberger fared the best of the group, shooting an 81. Timberlake had an 88. Their playing partner, Larry Giebelhausen, just missed his goal of breaking 100 with a 101.
“Under these conditions, you never really know,” Jordan said. “The doubt creeps in there a lot more than on the basketball court. On the basketball court, I never think about ‘what if.’ On the golf course you find yourself (thinking): What if you hit into the rough over there, can you get it out?”
The three celebs had celebrity caddies of their own. Rocco Mediate was on the bag for Roethlisberger, Anthony Kim for Timberlake and Fred Couples for Jordan.
Jordan credited Couples’ positive reinforcement for helping him bounce back. Yes, even Jordan needs a little confidence boost every now and then.
“After a while,” Jordan said, “I just said, ‘You know what? I’m an athlete. I love playing the game of golf. I’m a fan – enjoy it. Whatever happens, happens.”‘
Roethlisberger birdied Nos. 10 and 15, two of the toughest holes on the course that will be the site of next week’s U.S. Open. Roethlisberger said as he and Jordan walked up the 18th fairway, they talked about how any course they play in the future will seem easy by comparison.
And they’ll keep playing.
“When you become good at one thing, if you take up golf you want to be as good at golf as that other thing you do,” Timberlake said. “It’ll be a lifetime commitment for me.”
The 59-year-old Giebelhausen won the contest sponsored by Golf Digest. He earned a spot as a finalist with his six-word essay – “I’m a cop, I’ll shoot low!” – then the public selected him through online voting.
Giebelhausen said he’s not easily awed by celebrities.
“That doesn’t impress me,” he said. “What impresses me was that they were nice guys. That they were fun. That they were genuine. That they were pulling for me. That they were supportive.”