Laughs keep coming

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

There were awkward flubs and dubs among the flashes of brilliance.

And lots of laughter.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers players, coaches and office staff rubbed shoulders with sponsors and fans at their annual fund-raising golf tournament held at a course northeast of the perimeter yesterday.

For the fifth straight year, the tourney was sold out with more than 150 participants plus most of the healthy Bombers. The tourney is expected to make more than $50,000 for the local community-owned CFL club, Bombers president/CEO Lyle Bauer said.

They were also selling mulligans for $20 with those proceeds going to the Never Alone Foundation.

"There's a good relationship between our players and our sponsors," Bauer said. "This is a chance for our players to meet the business people and our staff to interact and to get to know our players on a different level than just on the field."

The team, which is in third place in the East with a 3-5 record, is just coming off a bye week so the players really didn't really need another day to get their minds off football.

"They're coming off a break and I really appreciate them taking the time to do this," Bauer said. "This has become very special and the players really want to be involved in this. They feel it is very important to what they do on and off the field."

Winnipeg linebacker Siddeeq Shabazz looked like a pro golfer in the flashy duds and cap he was wearing.

"I had to look like I could hit the ball (but) the ladies are all out-hitting me," said Shabazz, who kibitzed with his three female partners. "We are having a good time with the fans and we're enjoying it."

Tailback Fred Reid was not expecting much before the tourney started.

"I can hit the ball but I'm not really an experienced golfer," he said. "I like going out there and mingling with the fans and having a good time."

Bomber head coach Mike Kelly was at the 14th tee, challenging teams to beat him on the 150-yard par 3 (from the whites).

"If you beat me on that hole I will give you a sleeve of balls, but if I beat you, you are immediately escorted off the premises and should never play golf again," he said before the first whacks.

But no one was being escorted off after Kelly proved he cannot swing straight.

"If anybody wants any extra golf balls, 14th hole, the woods to the left, all my balls are in there and you can have them all," he said.

Kelly posted a sign at the tee box saying, "Lyle Bauer apologizes for anything I am about to say." He also spent the day taking friendly pokes at others on the tee box.

"It's just goodwill," he said. "I was excited to come back and be a part of this. It's great fun and it's important for us to be out here. It's a nice way to thank a lot of our sponsors and the fans that are here, and it's a great way to spend the day."

For some, it was a different way to spend a very long day in the sun.

"I can't actually play golf," said cornerback Jovon Johnson. "The only time I have ever tried is this golf tournament."

The Bombers will return to the practice field today and prepare to play against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the annual Labour Day Classic in Regina this Sunday.

Winnipeg will play host to the Roughriders in the annual Banjo Bowl the following Sunday. Less than 1,000 tickets are still available for that game.

NOTE: Jason Armstead came back to Winnipeg yesterday -- only to continue on his way to Regina. In a cruel twist of fate for Blue Bomber fans, the dangerous kick returner, cut loose by head coach Mike Kelly after off-season legal troubles in the U.S., has joined the rival Saskatchewan Roughriders just in time for the Labour Day Classic and the Banjo Bowl rematch. "We needed a spark in our return game and felt that was the guy to do it," former Winnipeg GM Brendan Taman, now in the Riders front office, told the Sun last night. Taman says Riders GM Eric Tillman's legwork convinced the team Armstead would have no trouble crossing the border.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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