Inaugural Skills Challenge: Fuzzy 'Dirty' 'Money'

NEWPORT BEACH — Dustin Bushnell has played his guitar and sang with "The Dirty Heads," on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and in front of large crowds. But that doesn't compare to the pressure Bushnell admits to feeling when he participated in the inaugural Toshiba Classic Skills Challenge Tuesday morning at Newport Beach Country Club.

Celebrities and Champions Tour pros came together to raise money for the Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center. They competed for fun, but the small crowd and participants quieted for each shot on the 10th hole, causing Bushnell to become nervous.

"I'd rather get on stage in front of a million people by myself than do that again," said Bushnell, who teamed with pro Esteban Toledo, sports radio/TV personality Matt "Money" Smith and Patrick Nani, the vice president of sales for Toshiba.

They played against three other teams of four that featured Matt Leinart, Steve Finley and Garret Anderson, as well as John Cook, Fuzzy Zoeller and Gary McCord.

"It was amazing," said Bushnell, who is a member of the band that is based in Huntington Beach. "Just to be able to play out here in the scenery and to be able to play out here with the professionals it was a great experience. But I will say I don't think I ever been more nervous for any thing in my life."

Bushnell came within an inch of giving his team a win. It was the final shot in the Skills Challenge, a chip on to the 10th green. Bushnell needed to get within three feet of the hole.

Instead Cook, who owns a home in Corona del Mar, along with Finley, John Howard, a San Diego television reporter, and Toshiba Classic tournament director Jeff Purser won, 23-22. The winning team earned a $50,0000 check for charity.

Purser said, the Skills Challenge was a fun event to replace the Shot from the Top, which was a competition that took place atop the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa.

"It was our first time, so you never know how something like that is going to go," Purser said. "But we were pretty darned pleased with it. It was a lot of fun. I think the guys had a lot of fun with it. We were testing it out trying to get a signature event this year. I think we want to make it a little better and bigger."

Leinart, the former USC star quarterback out of Mater Dei, said he enjoyed himself even though he had other things occupying his mind. NFL free agency began Tuesday and Leinart is hoping a team will come calling for him.

"This was just a great event," he said. "It was awesome to be a part of. Really cool."

Leinart got a kick out of meeting Zoeller, who provided several laughs during the event. Zoeller connected with Bushnell, giving The Dirty Heads band member fashion tips, that included helping Bushnell with his belt because he had missed a loop.

"He hit some good shots after that," Zoeller said. "I thought [the event] was very interesting. I think it will catch on."

Twitter: @SteveVirgen

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