JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Ben Roethlisberger said Jerome Bettis remains his favorite mode of transportation.
“I’ll ride the Bus any time,” said the former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback of his teammate for two years and his partner on Friday in the Constellation Furyk & Friends Celebrity Challenge for Charity, at the Timuquana Country Club. “On the football field and the golf course.”
With Roethlisberger pounding deep drives and Bettis draining five birdie putts, the Steeler duo beat the Jaguars team of Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Boselli and Josh Scobee in the two-player scramble format for skins totaling $60,000.
Bettis and Roethlisberger earned $36,000 for Beaches Habitat for Humanity. Boselli finished the day on a high note by making a 30-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole to earn $20,000 for a total of $24,000 for Blessings in a Backpack.
In addition, the Furyk Foundation awarded all four players a check for $10,000 for their respective foundations, for a total of $100,000 going to charity on a postcard Florida fall afternoon.
And while the four football players were playing golf and laughing it up, the first round of the Furyk & Friends was finishing, with tournament host Jim Furyk, Steve Flesch and Rob Labritz earning a share of the lead at 5-under 67.
For Boselli, it was the fitting end to a day on the golf course that began when he watched Jack Nicklaus start the tournament with a ceremonial tee shot.
It also began a big weekend for Boselli, who will be honored at Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans at TIAA Bank Field when Jaguars owner Shad Khan will present him with his Hall of Fame ring.
“I’m a huge golf fan … I told Jim [Furyk] any time you want me to come play golf, I’m there,” Boselli. “But to be able to hang out with Jack Nicklaus this morning, that was better than any birdie putt or anything. So that was a lot of fun.”
Then there was the closing birdie putt, courtesy of a good read by Scobee’s caddy, Jonathan Davis of Jacksonville.
“I told Jerome and Ben the only thing that matters is the birdie at 18 because that’s what everyone will remember,” Boselli said. “That was fun. It was great. To give back to charity… Jim and Tabitha [Furyk] do such a great job. And now the Hall of Fame ring ceremony, it’s a fun weekend.”
Scobee said Boselli held his own on the greens.
“Jonathan gave him a perfect read and Tony hit a perfect putt,” Scobee said. “He had a lot of really good putts today and we had a great time. I’m not sure how big the hole was for Jerome but it was bigger than it was for us.”
The event was watched by a nearly even mix of Jaguars and Steelers fans who turned out to watch two Hall of Famers (Boselli and Bettis), a lock in the future when he becomes eligible (Roethlisberger) and Scobee, the Jaguars’ all-time leading scorer.
The two teams started the round by each making birdie on the first three holes. Bettis rolled in birdie putts of 4, 15 and 40 feet to match two short birdie putts by Boselli and another by Scobee.
With a three-hole carryover and $13,000 on the line at the par-5 13th hole, Roethlisberger was in for a par while the Jaguars team bogeyed. Although with no pressure, Bettis knocked in another birdie putt of 15 feet.
The Jags team stopped the bleeding by winning the par-3 14th hole with a par but Bettis lagged a 40-foot eagle attempt to tap-range and then dropped a 30-footer at No. 17. Both teams shot 4-under for the nine holes but it was all about the timing of the clutch putts Bettis made with his Scotty Cameron wand.
“Putting has always been the strength of my golf game for a long time,” Bettis said. “I’ve just been very, very lucky to have a good stroke. It’s what we needed on a tough golf course.”
Roethlisberger said winning and losing on the golf course didn’t matter in the end.
“We’ve been so blessed to come here, do this and give back,” he said. “It’s worth it and some charities made some good money today.”
Contact Garry Smits at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GSmitter
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Jerome Bettis, Ben Roethlisberger beat Jaguars twosome in charity play