High School Sports

Stars arrive for pre-Super Bowl golf tourney

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Celebrities gathered by the dozens Thursday outside a local hotel, having flown in from across the country for this week’s Jim McMahon Swang “N” Super Bowl Bash golf tournament at Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club.

Nearly 40 will attend, everyone from PGA golf great John Daly to actor John Ashton to musician Steve Azar, organizers of the event say.

The tourney also has attracted special guests who are not as well known: young war veterans, some of whom are also amputees. They arrived courtesy of the Wounded Warrior Battalion, one of the three charities that will benefit from the estimated $250,000 the tournament is expected to raise.

“I believe at the last count, we had 39 celebrities,” said McMahon, who was greeting friends as they arrived at an East Manatee hotel for today’s tournament.

“A lot of guys are getting stuck in airports up north,” he said, noting the wintry weather had delayed some of those he was expecting.

Organizers threw a fancy private party Thursday night; the golfers were slated to gather this morning for the tournament at the country club. Each celebrity plays for free, but hosts a foursome that paid $10,000, or $2,750 per individual, for the honor of playing among the famous.

The celebs include New York Giants Super Bowl XXV MVP Ottis Anderson; former New York Yankees and New York Mets star Darryl Strawberry; former Washington Redskins player and Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien; football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, and Olympic Gold and Silver medalist Edwin Moses.

Also attending are former major league pitcher Shane Rawley, retired boxer Floyd Mayweather and baseball great Phil Niekro.

Bill Mazeroski, 72, who hit a game-winning home run during the final contest in the 1960 World Series and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, arrived from his winter home in Panama City.

He also keeps a residence in Pittsburgh, where he played 17 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Asked if he was leading a foursome, Mazeroski replied he was, but confessed, “I’m a real bad golfer, myself. It’s not about winning; we just hope the charity wins.”

Also enjoying the balmy weather was actor John Ashton, 60, who said he had flown in from Denver, where it was 5 degrees below zero when he left.

“Jim is a good friend of mine,” explained Ashton, who has appeared in many movies, including the “Beverly Hills Cop” films.

Two young war veterans said they were planning to play golf today, too.

“I’m going to attempt to play,” laughed U.S. Army Sgt. John Botts, 25, of San Antonio, Texas, who arrived courtesy of McMahon and the Wounded Warrior Battalion.

The other two charities the tournament benefits include the Lynda McMahon Ferguson Memorial Foundation for Literacy, named for McMahon’s late sister, and the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund.

Sara Kennedy, Bradenton Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 708-7908.