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Golfers team up to fight cancer

Athletes to gather at Woodcreek Golf Club for benefit tourney
By: Jeffrey Weidel, Press Tribune Correspondent
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Bobby Jackson and Matt Barnes have much in common. They both grew up to be NBA basketball players, have played for the Sacramento Kings, currently make their offseason home in the area and work out together, and sadly share the memory of their mothers dying of cancer. They will share one more thing later this week – co-hosting the Athletes vs. Cancer Celebrity Golf Invitational this Saturday at Woodcreek Golf Club in Roseville as a way to memorialize their beloved moms and also raise money for a shared cause. Jackson has an image of his mother’s face tattooed on his chest. Sarah Jackson, a single mom who raised Bobby and his twin sister Barbara Ann, passed away in January 2002 with her children at her bedside after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. Ann Barnes, who was only age 50, lost her brief battle with cancer November 2007, also with her family by her side. Ironically, one night later Barnes was helping the Warriors to an emotional victory over the Kings at Arco Arena. “Establishing this golf tournament is just a great way for Bobby and me to honor our mothers,” said Barnes, who played on the 2004-05 Kings with Jackson. “This is a wonderful thing to bring to the Sacramento region. We’ve had a lot of great response already and we’re hoping to make it a fun day for everyone.” Barnes, who recently signed as a free agent with Orlando, admits that he and Jackson may be relying heavily on other people in their five-person, scramble format teams, since both of them shoot a basketball much better than they can hit a golf ball. A free agent who played last year with the Kings and still has a home in Granite Bay, Jackson is coming off a broken left hand that has been in a cast, while Barnes has only played golf for several years. “Bobby has been golfing longer, but I’m catching up fast, I can hit it further than he can,” laughs Barnes. An estimated 40 celebrities, many of them current or former NBA players, will tee it up on the Woodcreek course, which can be a difficult track for a novice golfer. The field includes 10 former or current Kings and eight players with ties to the Golden State Warriors, where Barnes played for two seasons. Among the expected Kings are Chris Webber, Doug Christie, Jason Thompson, Mitch Richmond, Reggie Theus and Donte Greene. The Warrior contingent should include Gilbert Arenas, Stephen Jackson, Kelenna Azubuike, Al Harrington, Jason Richardson and Baron Davis. Although the golfing skills of many NBA players are minimal, for area fans it’s a chance to view them up close and perhaps get an autograph, a photo (point and shoot cameras are allowed) and some personal interaction. Gates open at 9 a.m. and the shotgun start takes place at 11:30 a.m. “This is something new and exciting for the area, and it’s for a tremendous cause, so we’re hoping we get the interest and can make this an annual event,” said Scott Prenez, event director and head professional at Diamond Oaks Golf Course. “It’s expanded much quicker than we originally thought. Bobby and Matt have really done a great job of getting celebrity players lined up. We’re expecting 25 to 30 teams with a celebrity in each group.” Jackson will use the money from the tournament to establish college scholarships for students that have either lost a parent to cancer or are currently facing the situation. Barnes’s portion of the proceeds will go toward screening clinics and early detection. His mother went undiagnosed for a time and died 26 days after the cancer was discovered. “It’s important to me because I never knew how serious breast cancer was until it happened to my family,” Jackson said. “My grandmother had passed a year before my mom from breast cancer. Breast cancer is hereditary and it’s in our genes. That’s the scary thing about it, because I have three daughters and nieces. It’s important to me to educate people, give them the knowledge about it and make them aware of breast cancer.” For ticket information, visit www.athletesvscancer.com. At a glance: Athletes vs. Cancer Celebrity Golf Invitational Date: Saturday, Aug. 8 Shotgun start: 11:30 a.m. (gates open 9 a.m.) Tickets: $15 (limit 1,200 spectators) Format: 5-person scramble, includes at least 1 celebrity Proceeds: benefit Athletes vs. Cancer Parking: Woodcreek lot or Parking – Woodcreek Golf Club lot or take free shuttle bus service will be Roseville Sports Center, 1545 Pleasant Grove Blvd. Information: www.athletesvscancer.com