Deciding who won the Bank of America Quarterback Classic might be a more difficult proposition than it appears on the surface.
The easy answer would be Denver Bronco quarterback John Elway, who overcame a triple-bogey 7 on No. 13 to fire a 1-under-par 70 and top a field of 25 past and present NFL quarterbacks Friday at The Coeur d’Alene Resort.
But it’s doubtful that Elway had a bigger day than 13-year-old Chris LaVoie. LaVoie, of Coeur d’Alene, got more than he bargained for when he boldly approached Mark Rypien for an autograph after Rypien had three-putted on No. 10. Rypien handed him the out-of-order putter - a pricey Ping Zing - and told him to keep it. He even autographed it.
“He’s a great guy,” LaVoie said, waggling the new souvenir. “But he sure wasn’t putting very good.” Rypien finished the round (shooting a 79 with a whopping 38 putts) putting with his driver.
Elway’s own kids, in fact, came away big winners in this inaugural event.
“They said it was the best vacation they’ve ever had,” said Janet Elway, John’s wife. “We all want to move here.”
Some of the field spent the day up to their hosels in the abundant geraniums on the plush course - such as Timm Rosenbach (109) and Jack Thompson (100). But others found the course forgiving.
“If you’re going to hit a bad shot, this is a good course to do it on because they don’t hurt you as bad here as some other courses that aren’t so scenic,” said Steve Bartkowski, who fired a 72. “But this is the best resort course I’ve ever played - bar none. And as far as maintenance is concerned, I don’t think I’ve seen a better maintained course except for Augusta National.”
And the 14th hole, the famous floating green? Well, Mark Brunell sent two to a watery grave, as did Tom Flick.
Proceeds from the event - which drew a gallery of nearly 2,000 on a 90-degree day - go to fund a minority scholarship for Washington State. “We didn’t reach our maximum goal of $200,000, which we had based on a full field (of 36 celebrities),” Harold Gibson, a WSU administrator said. “But we’re definitely in six figures, so it’s a great event from that respect.”
Thompson, known as the Throwin’ Samoan at WSU, had the proceeds earmarked.
“I’ve been complaining for a long time about the lack of Samoan athletes, so I think the first five scholarships need to go to Samoans,” Thompson said.
The players were pampered from the start. How much so? Organizers had a massage therapist on hand at the driving range.
Any takers? “Yes, Dave Krieg had a tight lower back that needed working on,” she said.
The shot of the day had to be Gus Frerotte’s tee ball on the 128-yard par-3 No. 3. The Washington Redskin drained it for an ace.
“All told, I think it’s a great event,” said Rypien, whose wife Annette gave birth to son Andrew Robert on Wednesday. “The support has been great and you can’t beat the setting or the golf course.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo