- Jason Sobel, Senior Golf Writer
- 0 Shares
Back in the day -- oh, 35, 40 years ago -- many entertainers hosted PGA Tour events, even putting their own names in the title.
Not anymore. We're now left with only two: the inaugural Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open will take place in October and the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic presented by George Lopez gets under way on Wednesday.
In advance of the event, we put Lopez on the ESPN.com Hot Seat to discuss his role as tourney host and his own golf game. Oh, and maybe tell a golf joke or two.
Q: I have a lot of serious questions for you, but let's set the mood first. Tell me your favorite golf joke.
A: Guy bludgeons his wife. Hit her 27 times. He's sitting outside and a policeman comes in. He says, "Hey man, I just killed my wife with a 5-iron."
The guy says, "Oh, I'm a golfer, too. How many times did you hit her?"
"I'll put you down for a 5."
Q: I like it. OK, enough with the funny stuff. How did you become host of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic?
A: The first year that I played was 2004 and not only was I happy to be a player in this tournament, but I connected with the galleries. After a couple of years, Bob had been passed away for about eight years and they said, "We need a host." It kind of made sense to have me, because I had such a connection with the people and the celebrities, so it's a good fit.
Q: A lot of people may think your role is simply that of a figurehead, but you've worked hard at this, haven't you?
A: You know what? I spend a little bit of time every day, all year round, either gathering celebrities or promoting it when I do my stand-up or on the Internet with pictures and stuff. I love golf and I respect it and it's really changed my life for the better. To be able to host, you know, Justin Timberlake and I are the only celebrities that have their names on a tournament. He's got his in the title, mine is hosted by, but celebrity golf is kind of dying away and I want to make sure this tournament doesn't go away, because it's been around almost 50 years.
Q: Would you like to see more entertainers and celebrities become hosts of PGA Tour events?
A: Well, I don't know about that, but I'd like to see them more connected to the ones that do allow celebrities to play. You know, Matt Damon plays, Adam Sandler plays, Will Smith plays, Greg Kinnear plays. You don't want to get to where you don't want to be surrounded by people because it's those people that are really responsible for your career. A talented person isn't that talented without people going to see their work.
Q: What's your handicap right now?
A: Right now it is an 11. I just spent the weekend with Lee Trevino, so I'm not sure if it's good or bad yet. I have to hit the ball with people watching.
Q: He didn't actually make your game worse, did he?
A: No, I think he made it better. He got me to understand some pretty simple things. You know, I was poor. I couldn't afford lessons, so I'd peek at guys and apparently I was watching everybody do it all wrong.
Q: Is there a certain index that tournament hosts have to reach? Did they make you pass a test or anything?
A: Well, if you can just survive the week. There are a lot of parties at night. I'd like to keep my blood alcohol level lower than my index.
Q: Your pro-am partners are Samuel L. Jackson and Luke Wilson. Who's carrying that team?
A: I think Sam. Sam is, you know, he's Mace Windu, man. You don't mess with Mace Windu. He's got a sword in his hand. Sam is like my perennial anchor on my team. In that rotation, I've had Cheech [Marin] in there, I've had Anthony Anderson in there, I've had Oscar De La Hoya in there, so that spot floats with Luke, so I'm happy to have him here. Luke and I did a movie called "Henry Poole Is Here" that's going to Sundance, so I'm happy to have Luke in my threesome.
Q: I see you're playing with Charley Hoffman in the opening round. Is that one of the perks of being tournament host, you get to play with the defending champ?
A: Well, you know what happened? Bob used to do that. Bob used to play with the defending champ, and then it went away when they didn't have a host. So last year I played with Chad Campbell. He won [in 2006]. And then this year with Charley. I also have a party on Tuesday night. Last year, Charley came to the party, so this year a lot of the pros are coming. Hopefully, the winner will come out of that party again.
Q: What's your best finish in the pro-am?
A: We finished, like, 54-under, probably 12th. We're not going to win this thing, but it's fun. And I cheat a little bit. If I get to the ball first, I always have a perfect lie. I've hit an NXT into the woods and hit a Pro-V1 out of it.
Q: Sounds like an upgrade.
A: Yeah, it's an upgrade.
Q: Who's the worst celeb golfer out there this week?
A: I haven't seen him with my own eyes, but Jimmy Fallon has the inside track on that one. It went from Jimmy to Jimmy. Last year, it was Jimmy Kimmel. This year, potentially, it could be Jimmy Fallon. He doesn't have a country club. He plays out of a driving range. Jeto's Driving Range. That could be ugly.
Q: I know you probably get the "When is Tiger going to play your event?" question all the time, so tell me: When is Tiger going to play your event?
A: That's a good question. When Britney Spears cleans up her life, Tiger will play in this tournament.
Q: Not anytime soon, huh?
A: No, we're not holding our breath on that one.
Q: What was the best part of shooting those Crowne Plaza commercials with the eclectic mix of Lee Trevino, Natalie Gulbis, David Feherty, Alice Cooper and Dan Jenkins?
A: My favorite one was the one about the wrench, how Mexicans love wrenches. TaylorMade came out with a club that had a wrench and the line was that Latinos were keeping the wrench and throwing the club away.
Q: Was that your line or Lee's?
A: That was mine, but we shared it.
Q: Am I supposed to ask you if you have any other projects you'd like to plug?
A: Well, I'm up for a Grammy next month. And "Henry Poole Is Here" is coming out in April. And then, all in all, just promoting golf, brother. The love of golf.
Q: Last thing: Give me one more golf joke to finish this off.
A: Two guys are playing golf. Funeral procession goes by and one guy takes off his hat. The other guy goes, "That was really nice." And the guy says, "Hey, 26 years. She was a hell of a wife."
Q: George Lopez, you are off the ESPN.com Hot Seat.
A: Thank you, brother.
Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com
5dAlex Perry at Wentworth