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World Series pitcher Jeff Nelson joins lineup at San Juan Island Celebrity Golf Classic

Jeff Nelson ... pitched for the Yankees in four World Series wins. - Wikipedia Commons
Jeff Nelson ... pitched for the Yankees in four World Series wins.
— image credit: Wikipedia Commons

Usually, the San Juan Island Celebrity Golf Classic has a guest star who headlines the list of celebrity regulars in the fund-raiser for the islands' non-profits.

This year, there will be four: Four-time World Series pitcher Jeff Nelson, U.W. football Hall of Famer Sonny Sixkiller, KING-5 Weekend Sports anchor Lisa Gangel, and Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney.

This year's classic — the 23rd annual — also has a new name: the Kenmore Air San Juan Island Celebrity Golf Classic. Kenmore Air stepped in as lead sponsor, taking over for Wells Fargo Bank, which is instead making a sizable contribution to the classic's beneficiaries, according to event chairman Pat O'Day.

Each year, the event raises more than $40,000 for numerous island non-profits, among them the Animal Protection Society, Boy Scout Troop 90, Compass Health San Juan Island, Family Resource Center, Friday Harbor High School Band, Lighthouse Preschool, Mullis Community Senior Center, Paideia School, Purple & Gold, San Juan Historical Society, and Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation.

The event starts June 5 with a 4 p.m. pro-am race, followed by a celebrity party at Haley's Bait Shop & Grill.

On June 6, the golf classic takes place with shotgun starts at 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The salmon barbecue is at 6 p.m. O'Day calls it "Vejvoda's World Famous Barbecued Salmon, as only John Vejvoda can do it." The Friday Harbor High School Jazz Band will perform during dinner. O'Day said the entertainment will include "a couple of little surprises."

Meanwhile, in the clubhouse, you can bid on items donated by the celebrities, as well as by island businesses, non-profits and residents.

This year's celebrity lineup includes Pat Cashman, Emmy award-winning actor, comedian and writer; Chip Hanauer, hydroplane racing Hall of Famer; Jim Moore, sports writer for SeattlePI.com; hydroplane racers Brian Perkins and Kayleigh Perkins; Bob Rivers of Seattle rock station KZOK-FM; Ron and Don of KIRO newsradio's Ron & Don Show; Paul Skansi, retired Seahawks wide receiver; and Alan White, drummer for Yes.

If they give out prizes for such a thing, Hanauer deserves it: He is now racing trucks on the NASCAR circuit, and will leave a race Friday night and fly to San Juan in time for the classic the next day.

Other highlights:

— Islanders Bank is sponsoring a $1,000 Longest Putt Contest at the eighth hole. Here's the twist: Your foursome has to make a decision whether to shoot for low score on the hole or go short for a chance at the longest putt.

Another twist: The winner has a choice of keeping the $1,000 or sharing it with his or her group. "We're trying to create conversation and chaos," O'Day said.

— Islanders Bank is hosting a "snack and watering hole" tent between the seventh hole and the eighth tee, replete with barbecue, oysters and a full bar.

— Bill Graves and Ed Perry of San Juan Seafoods are once again donating 500 pounds of Alaska king salmon for the barbecue.

The golf tournament has some competition as an event this year. Jenny Guard is getting married that day, and event coordinator Becki Day expects the tournament will lose about 250 participants as Guard, Sandwith and Wilson family members attend the wedding.

Sure, that could mean less of a wait for a plate of salmon. It could also mean, Becki Day said, "We need to appeal to the masses that day to support our causes."

To sign up to play or to buy salmon dinner tickets, call Becki Day, 378-9519.

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