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Steelers' Roethlisberger shoots 81 at Bethpage

| Saturday, June 13, 2009

FARMINGDALE, N.Y - Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger not only can handle a football, the two-time Super Bowl champion can also maneuver his way around a championship golf course.

Roethlisberger fared the best of his group ‚-- featuring NBA legend Michael Jordan, music star Justin Timberlake and contest winner Larry Giebelhausen, a Phoenix police lieutenant.

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, and shot 81 in the U.S. Open Challenge at Bethpage Black.

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 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.

Timberlake had an 88. 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. Greensburg native Rocco Mediate was on the bag for Roethlisberger, Fred Couples for Jordan and Anthony Kim for Timberlake.

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."'

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."

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