Originally published May 15, 2011 at 01:51p.m., updated May 16, 2011 at 12:42a.m.
MAYETTA Bill Self, who crushed a drive about 300 yards early in Sunday’s Celebrity Skins Game, heard no oohs and aahs from a gallery of about 250 fans at Firekeeper Golf Course.
“Silence!” Self, Kansas University’s basketball coach, said with a big smile, thrusting his arms, palms up, over his head.
That brought a bunch of laughs from several fans who took awhile to wake up on an unseasonably cold morning, as well as one of Self’s opponents.
That’d be former KU coach Roy Williams, who along with former Alvamar pro Randy Towner defeated Self and PGA golfer Notah Begay 4-to-2, with three holes tied in the nine-hole competition.
“It’s never silent in the fieldhouse. That’s why it’s the best,” North Carolina coach Williams said to Self.
That was not the only compliment Williams — who coached in KU’s Allen Fieldhouse for 15 years before heading to the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill, N.C., where he has worked the last eight seasons — tossed KU’s way.
“People say time heals a lot of things. There were some hard feelings when I left,” Williams said. “I said the day I left, I say now and I’ll say 30 years from now, my two favorite schools are North Carolina and Kansas.
“I didn’t want ’em to beat us by 3,000 points, which is what it felt like in San Antonio,” Williams cracked of the Jayhawks’ 84-66 victory over UNC in a 2008 Final Four semifinal, “but I was really pulling for them to win (in final against Memphis). I do it all the time. When somebody mentions my time at the University of Kansas, it brings a smile to my face. That’s the way I always want to feel. It’s still a great, great place, and you can’t beat Allen Fieldhouse.”
Williams, who signed a batch of autographs on a day he was treated warmly by the fans, was in a great mood after sinking a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 16, rolling a 60-footer within a couple inches on No. 10 and blasting a booming drive on No. 18. The golfers played the back nine of the Firekeeper course, which had its grand opening Sunday.
“You see how much better a golfer Randy is now that I’m coaching him,” Williams cracked of Firekeeper general manager Towner, who dazzled with birdie putts of 10, 8 and 8 feet on holes 10 through 12 and a 10-footer on No. 17.
“Randy played great. He was probably 2 or 3 under on his own ball,” Self marveled.
Self had plenty of his own highlights. He was long off the tee, drew a 40-foot putt within an inch on No. 13 and sank a six-foot birdie putt on No. 16.
“I kept the ball in play. I didn't putt great, but for me, a 12-handicap, I probably played OK. I think I only had a couple of bad miss-hits,” Self said.
He was asked about his coaching counterpart, who admittedly takes Skins competitions seriously.
“Roy loves golf. I like it OK,” Self said. “His passion for it is a little different than mine. That’s what golfers do. They take it seriously. If I practiced more, maybe I’d take it a little more seriously. It’s good Roy is here. I think he did such a great job when he was at KU for 15 years. He deserves the pat on the back the fans give him when he is around. It was a good day.”
Four-time PGA champ Begay, who designed the course, made a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 13 and four-footer for birdie on 14.
“You can be a golf fan or a basketball fan and enjoy today. At least I brought in some guys I know I can beat. That’s the luxury of being the designer,” Begay said with a smile. “I appreciate coach Self and coach Williams being here. They have demands on their time. They are out there trying to get the best recruits they can for next season. For them taking a day to do this is special for me.”
It was a morning with a lot of laughs to go with great golf shots.
“I haven’t felt this much pressure since we were down 18-6 to VCU (in Elite Eight loss),” Self said.
“If I practice hard the next year-and-a-half, I’ll have a shot at the Senior Tour,” added the 48-year-old KU coach. “It may take three years. I have no shot at doing anything other than hacking it around with some guys on the weekends.”
Noted Williams to tourney organizers: “You probably appreciated me last night more at the casino (Prairie Band, next to golf course) than today, because I left so much money at the casino last night. I’m trying to do my part to help the economy around here.”
• Williams addressed his coaching future Sunday.
“As long as my health holds, I’d like to go another six to 10 years at least, but I am enjoying the dickens out of it,” he said.
“I am 60 years old now. Coach (Dean) Smith stopped at 66. He told me he didn’t want me to stop that early, so that’s the reason I picked the number six. I picked 10 ... no reason, round numbers. I don’t want to be out there at 71 or 72 if I don’t have my health.”
• Self and Begay earned $3,500 for Self’s Assists Foundation. Williams and Towner won $6,500 for Boys and Girls Club of Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. The casino provided the prize money.