Celebrity Participants Announced for 2009 BMW Charity Pro-Am Golf Tournament
Steve Azar, Catherine Bell, Lucas Black, Javier Colon, Dave Coulier, Jason Dohring, David James Elliott, Wayne Gretzky, Oliver Hudson, Janet Jones-Gretzky, Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Mills, Terry O’Quinn, Michael Pena, Dennis Quaid, George Rogers, Joe Don Rooney, Stefanie Schaeffer, Sterling Sharpe, Kevin Sorbo, Kordell Stewart, Dabo Swinney, Paula Trickey, Gary Valentine and Ben Wright are the celebrities that are scheduled to compete in this year’s BMW Charity Pro-Am golf tournament.
Country music singer Steve Azar became a radio sensation with the release of I Don’t Have to Be Me (‘Til Monday) and his video Waitin’ on Joe. His album, Indianola, is a fusion of his life in Nashville and his Mississippi Delta roots, showcasing his multi-faceted talent as a songwriter, performer and producer. In addition to writing or co-writing every song on Indianola, and engineering and producing the collection, Azar plays slide guitar, mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar at various places on the album. This is Azar’s second appearance at the BMW Charity Pro-Am.
Catherine Bell is best known as Marine Corps attorney Lt. Colonel Sarah ‘Mac’ Mackenzie on the former hit TV series, J.A.G., and has recently gained notoriety for her role in the Lifetime series Army Wives. Bell also starred in the Sci-Fi network’s original miniseries The Triangle, where she was nominated for a Saturn Award by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for Best Supporting Actress. She has also had supporting roles in the hit movies Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty as television news anchor Susan Ortega. Bell was voted the 38th sexiest girl in FHM’s “2002 Sexiest Girls” edition. Bell was born in London, but moved to California with her Iranian mother at the age of two. She is fluent in the Persian language of Farsi. This will be her sixth appearance.
Making his film debut in The War, Lucas Black has gone on to star in movies such as Friday Night Lights, Jarhead, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, as well as roles in Cold Mountain, All The Pretty Horses and Deepwater. This is Black’s first time playing in the tournament.
Musician Javier Colon burst onto the scene in 2003 with the release of his self-titled album. His 2006 release, Left of Center, contains 13 tracks and is a mix of R&B, hip-hop, rock, pop balladry and straight-up soul. It also contains Latin, jazz, acoustic and gospel aspects. This will be Colon’s fourth appearance at the tournament.
Dave Coulier (pronounced Cool-Yay) is perhaps best known for his work as Uncle Joey on the long-running hit ABC television series, Full House, which aired for eight seasons (1987-1995). Coulier followed this success by hosting his second prime-time hit series America’s Funniest People, which ran on ABC for four seasons. Coulier’s stand-up act earned him regular appearances on The Tonight Show, HBO’s Detroit Comedy Jam and HBO’s Comic Relief. Coulier currently resides in Los Angeles with his son, Luc. He spends much of his free time flying airplanes, playing ice hockey and on the golf course. This is Coulier’s second time playing in the BMW Charity Pro-Am.
Jason Dohring got his start in commercials and then moved into roles in movies and television. He has appeared on J.A.G., Roswell, Boston Public, The Division, and Cold Case among others. Dohring also co-starred opposite Randy Quaid in the made-for-television film, Black Cadillac. His breakout role was portraying the scene-stealing Logan Echolls on the critically-acclaimed Veronica Mars. On top of being a talented actor, Dohring is an expert skier and enjoys snowboarding, water skiing, golf and boxing. This is Dohring’s second time playing in the tournament.
David James Elliott, who is best known for his role as Commander Harmon “Harm” Rabb on the hit TV show J.A.G., will participate in his second BMW Charity Pro-Am golf tournament. He was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in 1996. Elliott played Assistant District Attorney James Conlon on the television series Close to Home in 2007.
Wayne Gretzky, arguably the greatest ice hockey player of all time, and his wife Janet Jones-Gretzky will return for their fifth appearance in the BMW Charity Pro-Am. Few careers were more star-studded or classy than that of Wayne Gretzky’s. The Hall of Fame center (inducted in 1999) rewrote the NHL record book by setting 61 records, including being the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorer with 894. More importantly, Gretzky transcended the sport and brought hockey to new and dizzying heights, including the southern United States, which, prior to Gretzky, rarely even covered the sport in its daily newspapers. He is currently coach and part-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes NHL hockey team. His wife, Janet Jones-Gretzky, is an actress who has been in many movies including, A League of Their Own, Police Academy 5, The Flamingo Kid and Staying Alive. The two were married in 1988 and have five children.
Oliver Hudson currently stars alongside David Spade and Patrick Warburton in the CBS comedy Rules of Engagement. He also starred opposite Katie Holmes as her boyfriend for 16 episodes of Dawson’s Creek. He has also appeared in movies such as Black Christmas, The Mountain, New Best Friend and The Out-of-Towners, Hudson is the son of Goldie Hawn and brother to Kate Hudson. This is Hudson’s second time in the tournament.
Greg Kinnear is an Academy Award-nominated actor who received his breakthrough when he became the first host of Talk Soup in the early ‘90s. He left Talk Soup for the NBC late-night talk show, Later with Greg Kinnear in 1994. It was also in 1994 that Kinnear received his first big screen role, as a talk show host yet again in the comedy Blankman. In 1997, Kinnear starred in the blockbuster comedy drama As Good as It Gets, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Kinnear next portrayed actor Bob Crane in the biopic Auto Focus about the life and murder of Crane. In 2006, he starred in Little Miss Sunshine and co-starred alongside Mark Wahlberg in the film version of Invincible, based on the true story of a man who tries out for the Philadelphia Eagles NFL football team. Kinnear’s next film, Green Zone, is set for release in December 2009. This is Kinnear’s second time playing in the BMW Charity Pro-Am.
Longtime television journalist Jennifer Mills is one of three celebrities to compete in every tournament (George Rogers and Ben Wright). Respected throughout golf circles, Mills helped launch the Golf Channel® where she spent 11 years as anchor of the award winning show, GolfCentral. In 2007, Mills graduated to the networks as a member of the NBC Sports golf team. She is also currently Co-Host of MASTERS TV for Augusta National each April. A native of the Carolinas and mother of two, Mills got her start in television at WYFF in Greenville where she was a news reporter and later host of P.M. Magazine.
Terry O’Quinn is a versatile character actor who has worked consistently for three decades but gained notoriety when he landed on Lost in 2004 as mysterious castaway John Locke, a role that earned him a 2005 Emmy nod. In the ‘80s, O’Quinn appeared on stage, television and in films, usually as a supporting player. His villainous turn as the title character in the horror flick The Stepfather proved that he had a lead’s charisma. He was even busier in the ‘90s and ‘00s with numerous TV-movies and guest spots, as well as recurring roles on J.A.G., The West Wing, Millennium and Alias. After a six-year absence, this will be O’Quinn’s second time competing in the tournament.
Michael Pena made his Hollywood breakthrough in 2004 when he performed in the critically acclaimed movies Million Dollar Baby and Crash. He has also appeared on the Golden Globe winning series, The Shield. Pena starred alongside Nicolas Cage in Oliver Stone’s film World Trade Center and had a small role in Babel. In 2007, Pena played FBI agent Nick Memphis in Shooter with Mark Wahlberg. Most recently, he played Ernest Rodriquez in the drama/thriller Lions for Lambs opposite Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. In his latest film, Observe and Report (released in April 2009), Pena stars alongside Seth Rogan and Anna Faris. This is Pena’s second time competing in the tournament.
Dennis Quaid’s acting career began after his brother, Randy Quaid, was nominated for an Academy Award for The Last Detail (1973). After his first appearance in Crazy Mama (1975), Quaid gained positive reviews in The Right Stuff and went on to star in hits including: Great Balls of Fire, Enemy Mine, The Rookie, Far From Heaven (where he received a Golden Globe nomination), In Good Company, Dragonheart, The Parent Trap, Wyatt Earp, Frequency, Any Given Sunday, The Day After Tomorrow and Vantage Point. Quaid will play “Hawk” in Paramount Pictures G.I. Joe, which is slated for release in 2009. Along with being an avid golfer, he has his pilot’s license and is a musician, playing with his band The Sharks. This is Quaid’s second time playing in the tournament.
As the 1980 Heisman trophy-winning running back from the University of South Carolina, George Rogers rolled up 21 consecutive 100-yard games, including every game his senior year, when he led the nation in rushing with 1,781 yards and tied for third in TDs with 14. New Orleans Saints coach Bum Phillips, who made Rogers the top NFL ‘81 draft choice, noted the running back’s double edge – Rogers could dodge a defender or run over him. Rogers was a member of the 1987 Washington Redskins Super Bowl Championship team. He retired in 1988. Rogers and professional partner Kyle Thompson, also an alumnus of South Carolina, won the 2002 Pro-Celebrity portion of the BMW Charity Pro-Am. This will be Rogers’ ninth appearance, one of only three celebrities that have competed in every tournament.
Joe Don Rooney is best known as the lead guitarist and harmony singer in the multi-platinum-selling country-pop group Rascal Flatts. He was raised in the tiny Oklahoma town of Picher, learning to love music through the diverse tastes of his brothers and sisters. Later relocating to Nashville, Rooney was playing in the backing band of country star Chely Wright when one of his bandmates, Jay DeMarcus, asked him to sit in one night as a substitute guitar player at a gig DeMarcus had on the side. The chemistry between the three – the gig also included DeMarcus’ second cousin Gary LeVox – was immediately apparent and, thus, Rascal Flatts was born. The group released their sixth studio album, Unstoppable, in April 2009 and will go on tour this summer. This is Rooney’s first time competing in the tournament.
Stefanie Schaeffer’s creativity, business savvy and leadership skills made her a natural to win NBC’s 2007 The Apprentice and secure the position of Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Trump International Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas. Prior to winning The Apprentice, Schaeffer worked as a lawyer for a prestigious California firm. Though a native Californian, she hails from a family of entrepreneurial New Yorkers. As a major proponent of charity involvement, Schaeffer is a national spokesperson for the American Cancer Society and volunteers with the Boys and Girls Clubs and Habitat for Humanity. She enjoys writing poetry, cooking, skiing, golf and scuba diving. This will be Schaeffer’s second time competing in the BMW Charity Pro-Am.
Sterling Sharpe set school records at University of South Carolina with 169 career receptions, 2,497 receiving yards and a since-broken record of 17 career touchdowns. He also set the school record for single-season receiving touchdowns with 11. Sharpe was the first round (No. 7 overall) draft pick by the Green Bay Packers in 1988 and had an immediate impact on the team, staying with the Packers until 1994 when he suffered a neck injury, ending a career in which he was named an All-Pro five times. Sharpe is currently an NFL analyst. This will be Sharpe’s third time playing in the tournament.
Kevin Sorbo quickly rose to international stardom in the title role of the hit series, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. In 1997, Sorbo made his feature film debut, starring in Universal Studio’s Kull the Conqueror, a prequel to Conan the Barbarian. Sorbo has also appeared on several hit television shows such as Hope and Faith, According to Jim, Dharma & Greg, Just Shoot Me, Cybill, The Commish, and Murder, She Wrote. In 2008, Sorbo appeared in the spoof film Meet the Spartans, which opened at No. 1 at the U.S. box office charts. A native of Mound, Minn., Sorbo enjoys golfing and snow skiing in his spare time. This is Sorbo’s fourth appearance in the BMW Charity Pro-Am.
Star quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kordell Stewart helped lead his team to the Super Bowl his very first season in the NFL in 1995. After seven seasons as a quarterback with the Steelers, Stewart boasted a pass-completion rate of 55.7 percent for a total of 12,173 yards and 64 touchdowns. Despite his obvious prowess as a quarterback, Stewart also saw service as a wide receiver, running back, and punter, making him one of pro football’s most versatile players and earning him the nickname “Slash” from former head coach Bill Cowher. This will be Stewart’s second time competing in the BMW Charity Pro-Am.
William “Dabo” Swinney is the head football coach of Clemson University. An Alabama native, Swinney attended the University of Alabama, where he joined the Crimson Tide football program as a walk-on wide receiver in 1989. Swinney earned a scholarship and lettered on three teams (1990–1992), including the Crimson Tide’s 1992 National Championship team. He was twice named an Academic All-SEC and SEC Scholar Athlete Honor Roll member. He received his degree in Commerce & Business Administration in 1993 and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration in 1995. Swinney joined the Alabama coaching staff as a graduate assistant, serving from 1993–95. In 2002, he joined Clemson’s staff as wide receivers coach. Swinney became Clemson’s head coach in December 2008. This is Swinney’s first time playing in the tournament.
Raised in Tulsa, Okla., Paula Trickey earned the title of Miss Oklahoma in the 1985 Teen All-American Pageant. Following high school, Trickey moved to Dallas where she studied acting and honed her skills as an actress prior to moving to Los Angeles to pursue her career. After arriving in L.A., Trickey landed a five season run on Pacific Blue and has also had recurring roles on shows such as The O.C., Beverly Hills, 90210 and Walker, Texas Ranger. Her feature film work includes A Kiss Goodnight, The Base and Mr. Saturday Night. This is Trickey’s first time playing in the BMW Charity Pro-Am.
Actor and Comedian Gary Valentine most recently appeared in Paul Blart: Mall Cop and has also had roles in the movies I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Stuck on You. Valentine also had a reoccurring role on the CBS comedy The King of Queens alongside his real-life brother Kevin James. Valentine appeared on Comedy Central Presents and tours across the country with several comedy tours. This is Valentine’s third time playing in the BMW Charity Pro-Am.
Golf commentator and course designer Ben Wright has been covering the golfing world for 50 years, most notably with CBS Sports. Wright has attended the world’s major golf events since 1954. He announced The Masters tournament at Augusta National Golf Club for more than 20 years in succession, and also broadcast the Ryder Cup matches in 1989, ‘91, ‘93 and ‘95. His articulate prose and ability to tell a tale are unrivaled, as are his wit and intellect. He is competing in his ninth tournament, one of only three celebrities to do so.
The 2009 BMW Charity Pro-Am golf tournament will be played May 14-17 at Bright’s Creek Golf Club (Mill Spring, N.C.), The Carolina Country Club (Spartanburg, S.C.) and Thornblade Club (Greer, S.C.) golf courses. All four rounds will be televised live by the Golf Channel®.
The BMW Charity Pro-Am is the only tournament on the PGA TOUR’s Nationwide Tour where amateurs and celebrities are grouped with Nationwide Tour professionals in a four-day better-ball competition over three courses. Amateurs, celebrities and pros rotate between three courses on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with the 14 lowest scoring pro-amateur/pro-celebrity teams advancing to play Sunday’s final round at Thornblade Club. Celebrities play once at each course on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The professional winner of the overall 72-hole event will take home $126,000 from the total purse of $700,000, which is one of the largest purses on the Nationwide Tour. Amateurs and celebrities will compete for individual prizes and cash donations to the charity of their choice out of the 78 tournament beneficiaries selected by South Carolina Charities, Inc. The first eight tournaments have raised $6.7 million for 125+ area charities.
For more information on the BMW Charity Pro-Am golf tournament, sponsorship opportunities, amateur playing spots or volunteerism, call (864) 297-1660 or visit the tournament’s website at www.bmwcharitygolf.com.