Golf

Hamlin, Larry the Cable Guy among commitments to Monday After the Masters

Comedian Larry the Cable Guy, NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin and ESPN analyst and recently retired NBA player Shane Battier are scheduled to make their debuts in the Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am in April.

Those who have committed to return to the event include Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Rick Barry, NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith, 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III and 16-time PGA Tour winner Jim Furyk.

The 21st annual Hootie MAM is being played April 13 at Barefoot Resort’s Dye Club.

Tournament spectator tickets sold out within a few hours of their release on Feb. 23.

Both Hamlin, who has won 24 Sprint Cup events, and Larry the Cable Guy have been scheduled to participate previously but had to withdraw due to injuries.

Other first-time participants who have committed include former NBA players Detlef Schrempf and Spud Webb, Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate, former New York Yankee Jim Leyritz, and actress Debbe Dunning, who played Tool Time Girl Heidi Keppert on the ABC sitcom Home Improvement.

PGA Tour members Sean O’Hair, Coastal Carolina alum Tom Gillis and Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, are also scheduled to make their first appearances in the event.

O’Hair, a past winner of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, was in a playoff Sunday for the Valspar Championship, and Saunders reached a playoff for the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open earlier this month. Gillis, 46, a Michigan native and resident, has been a PGA Tour member in seven seasons, including the past five.

Each year, the band and tournament director Paul Graham try to find a balance between inviting longtime participants who have been loyal to and supportive of the event, and new notable celebrities and golfers who will help keep the event fresh.

“I think we’ve been really good at it,” Graham said. “We can’t even begin to number the people who have requested to play. If you go through the list of names of people who are new, it’s pretty stellar. We’re very pleased.”

Horschel will be competing as the reigning PGA Tour FedExCup champion. The Florida graduate was the hottest golfer in the world at end of the 2013-14 season, winning the FedExCup with a tie for second at the Deutsche Bank Championship followed by victories at the BMW Championship and Tour Championship.

Other current or past PGA Tour members who have committed to the event include entertaining two-time RBC Heritage winner Boo Weekley, Woody Austin, Matt Bettencourt, Jay Don Blake, Scott Brown, Chris DiMarco, Ken Duke, Robert Gamez, Brian Gay, Darron Stiles, Robert Streb, Kyle Thompson, Mark Lye, Naval Academy graduate Billy Hurley and broadcasters Billy Kratzert and Charlie Rymer.

South Carolina alums and brothers George and Wesley Bryan of Columbia, who perform trick shots on the Bryan Bros Golf website, are participating and may perform.

Other celebrities expected to appear include Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and Clemson alum Tajh Boyd, Cleveland Browns quarterback and South Carolina alum Connor Shaw, wrestling legend Ric Flair, NHL Hall of Fame goaltender Grant Fuhr, Staind lead singer and solo artist Aaron Lewis, country singers Johnny Lee and Colt Ford, and former NFL receiver Mike Quick.

Notable past tournament regulars who are scheduled to return include former NFL players Sterling Sharpe, Jim McMahon and Jimbo Covert; musicians Edwin McCain, Javier Colon Andrew Copeland and Steve Azar; comedian/actors Gary Valentine and Jackie Flynn; and NASCAR driver and team owner Michael Waltrip.

The Hootie MAM helps fund junior golf and educational programs in South Carolina through the charitable Hootie Foundation, and last year organizers say the event was responsible for $461,000 in donations.

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