Celebrities Tee it Up at Pinehurst for V Foundation

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The course where Payne Stewart and Michael Campbell won a U.S. Open will be home for a while to dozens of hackers with high handicaps.
 
All in an effort to fight cancer.
 
Pinehurst's hallowed No. 2 course will be one of three layouts in play this weekend for the Jimmy V Celebrity Golf Classic, the annual tournament that benefits the cancer-research foundation bearing the nickname of former North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano.
 
'Being down here is a whole new adventure,' said Nick Valvano, chief executive of the V Foundation and brother of the late coach. 'I feel like Yogi Berra -- we don't know what we know yet.'
 
The tournament moved from suburban Raleigh to this golf hotbed in the North Carolina sandhills, bringing with it figures from sports and Hollywood. Jim Valvano died of cancer nearly 15 years ago.
 
The roster includes: basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, Memphis coach John Calipari, current N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, former pro wrestler Bill Goldberg and actor Dennis Haskins -- aka Mr. Belding, the principal on 'Saved by the Bell'.
 
'I go back and think about Jim and his vision way back when, and thinking about how big he wanted this to be and how he wanted to generate a lot of money,' said Frank McCann, the tournament's executive director. 'Now to move down here to the mecca of golf, it just seems like a match.'
 
Nick Valvano called it 'the grandfather of all our events' because it was the first in a succession of events including a basketball classic and charity auctions to generate funds for cancer research.
 
'There's a fondness ... it's the one that helped us really create some very strong and lasting relationships,' Valvano said.
 
The field consists of five-player groups with one celebrity and four other players who pay $5,000 apiece to take part in the scramble at the Nos. 2, 4 and 8 courses at Pinehurst.
 
Always held during the last weekend in August, the classic produced more than $12 million of the nearly $70 million raised since the foundation was started in 1993 during the coach's passionate speech at the inaugural ESPY awards.
 
The foundation has all these events (and) it's good for us to be a smaller piece of the pie,' McCann said. 'That means the foundation is growing.'
 
The classic's first visit to Pinehurst comes after 13 years at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary. McCann said the change became necessary when the Champions Tour event held there each year was moved to mid-September, within three weeks of the charity tournament. There wasn't enough time for the course to recover.
 
In its last year at Prestonwood, the V Foundation event raised nearly $1 million, and 'if we do as well as last year, we'll be very happy,' McCann said.
 
The event provides another chance to remember the coach who, with Lowe as his point guard, led N.C. State to an improbable national title in 1983. In the moments following Lorenzo Charles' last-second dunk, Valvano scurried around the court in search of someone to hug -- a lasting image from the NCAA tournament.
 
Near the end of his coaching stay with the Wolfpack, Valvano came under scrutiny during a scandal in which players were accused of selling their shoes and game tickets. ESPN's Stuart Scott, a North Carolina graduate, covered the story for a Raleigh television station.
 
'One time, it was really, really sticky ... and he just kind of nicely, but sternly, kicked us out of his office,' Scott said. 'I remember sitting there thinking, 'But don't you know I like you? I really like you as a person. I'm not one of those Carolina guys who doesn't like you.'
 
'But it was fun getting to know him. Boundless energy,' he added. 'When somebody passes, people always say, 'He's a great guy,' and sometimes they were, sometimes maybe not. But I've never heard anyone who knew him personally say he wasn't anything but a great guy.'
 
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