NORTON — The annual visit by the PGA Tour brought appearances by some of Boston’s biggest names from sports other than golf.
Shawn Thornton of the Bruins and a trio of Celtics — owner Steve Pagliuca, president Danny Ainge, and new coach Brad Stevens — participated in Thursday’s pro-am for the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.
“I was terrible, but it was a good experience,” said Thornton, who was enjoying his last free time before reporting for Bruins training camp. “I don’t take myself seriously enough to be nervous out here. I’m just nervous I’m going to hit somebody. I don’t know if I have umbrella coverage that’s large enough.”
Thornton was paired with Keegan Bradley, a Vermont native who roots hard for Boston’s pro sports teams. The two have become good friends, and each made the request to be on the same pro-am team. Thornton will also be following Bradley’s first round — he’s paired with Gary Woodland and Kevin Streelman, off No. 1 at 12:58 p.m. — tweeting his observations using the tournament’s Twitter handle (@dbchampionship).
The Celtics’ contingent was on the same pro-am team, along with PGA Tour rookie Jordan Spieth and Seth Waugh, the former CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas. The highlight for Stevens? Making a birdie on the first hole.
“Went downhill from there,” Stevens said. “But it was good, it was fun.”
Spieth, who turned 20 last month, is a basketball junkie. He played into high school, and his younger brother, Steven, will be a freshman guard for Brown this season. He didn’t know about the pairing while warming up on the practice range Thursday morning.
“It was a surprise. Danny came up and introduced himself on the range, and then Coach showed up, then Pags showed up,” Spieth said. “It was a special group. It’s very rare that we get to play with guys that are just that cool, that much fun, and I’m big fans.
“You don’t often have other guys that are asked to sign more stuff than I am in a pro-am, but today was one of those days. It was a great experience, talking basketball, talking about the team.”
Showing his support
Matt Every will be easy to spot this week. He’s the only player with the name of Tim Tebow — along with the Patriots logo — stitched onto his golf bag.
“I’ve been having an argument out here with a few guys who are Dallas Cowboys homers. They worship Tony Romo and just hate on Tim Tebow. I don’t get it,” said Every. “I know Tim is not a world-beater. Fine. This guy is as genuine as you can get.”
Every is a 2006 graduate of the University of Florida, the school where Tebow starred, winning the Heisman Trophy and two national championships. He knows the fellow Gator, and is sticking up for him, despite Tebow’s critics and possibly shaky roster status.
One vote for Woods
In the Tiger Woods vs. Adam Scott vs. Phil Mickelson player of the year debate, Rory McIlroy thinks it’s an open-and-shut case.
“I don’t think there’s any other choice than Tiger Woods,” McIlroy said. “Five wins and obviously being very dominant this year. And he’s got a 4- or 5-point lead in the world rankings, won more money than anyone else. I don’t see how it could be anyone else.”
McIlroy likes his own chances this week, though. If he wins, he’ll become the first repeat winner in Deutsche Championship history.
“I’m feeling good about my game. I think when you come back to golf courses that you’ve played well at before, it gives you a nice, positive boost,” McIlroy said.
At No. 36 in points, McIlroy has some work to do if he wants to advance to the Tour Championship (reserved for the top 30).
Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner were credited with the low professional rounds in the pro-am, each shooting a 7-under-par 64. The winning team was also led by Johnson, and included Walid Al Attar, Maurizio La Noce, Greg Sproule, and Mark Arnold. They shot 14 under . . . A reminder that pairings for the first two rounds are based on FedEx Cup points list standings, which is why Woods, Mickelson, and Scott (Nos. 1-3, also in the world rankings) are in the same group. It’s only the second time they’ve been paired together; the first was for the first two rounds of the 2008 US Open . . . How does Scott feel about the tournament? “Well, this is one of my favorite events on the tour and definitely has a special place in my heart, being where I won my first tour event back in 2003,” he said.