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Celebrities play to fans at Outback Pro-AM

Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks starts his round with a fist bump with partner Fulton Allem after teeing off.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks starts his round with a fist bump with partner Fulton Allem after teeing off.

LUTZ — The Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am features the top golfers on the Champions Tour, but Friday fans also flocked to another well-known group — the celebrities.

Country music star Vince Gill, comedian George Lopez and former football greats Jerry Rice and Joe Theismann were among those on hand to entertain as much as compete.

"Getting to play with Tom (Watson) and Nancy (Lopez) was pretty hallowed ground for me," said Gill, a scratch golfer and a regular at pro-am events. "I had a good time with the crowd, showed them a good time. That's why I'm here."

Noted PGA funnyman Fuzzy Zoeller is the life of most foursomes, but Friday he had some stiff competition. Lopez played alongside Zoeller, actor Craig T. Nelson and pro Denis Watson. While on the group's final green, Lopez hammed it up with the crowd and gave away three drivers — belonging to Nelson.

"It's a nice tournament," Lopez said. "Come to Florida, sweat out a little Jack Daniel's. It's a good thing."

After signing his scorecard — he and Zoeller shot 6-under 65, six off the lead — Lopez mingled with the fans, even taking a phone call from autograph-seeker Victor Carranza, 43, of Spring Hill.

"I just handed (Lopez) the phone to say hello to my son," Carranza said. "It was an impulse thing but Lopez was nothing but personable."

Lopez then planted a kiss on a blushing elderly woman before turning to the crowd and exclaiming, ''Let that cougar out!"

Rice, a Hall of Famer, has been busy mentoring a number of receivers, including California's DeSean Jackson — a wideout the Buccaneers may be targeting in next weekend's NFL draft.

"I think you've got another Devin Hester," Rice said of Jackson. "When he touches the football, he's electrifying and he's going to do something with it. But he's a little bit more advanced than Devin as a receiver."

Theismann, who quarterbacked Washington to a victory in Super Bowl XVII, also speculated on Bucs draft selections.

"I think their wide receiving corps needs to be upgraded a little bit and possibly another cornerback because some of their players are getting a little older at that position," Theismann said.

Celebrities play to fans at Outback Pro-AM 04/18/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 18, 2008 9:33pm]
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