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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 August 2006, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Stars' smiles hide golf rivalry
By Nick Dermody
BBC Wales news website

Alice Cooper

Not everyone takes up golf because they need something to do after giving up hard liquor.

But that is what veteran shock rocker Alice Cooper did.

And 25 years of practice have made him a top shot in the American team in this year's celebrity golf tournament at the Celtic Manor Resort in south Wales.

The visitors hope his five handicap will help them to victory after losing to the Europe team in the final shots at the inaugural event last year.

Professional golfer Colin Montgomerie heads the Europe team, which includes veteran celebrity golfer Bruce Forsyth, 78, and Dutch footballing star Ruud Gullit, who has an impressive seven handicap.

I live in Arizona and I get up and I'm on a tee at six thirty every morning
Alice Cooper

The celebrities attended a gala dinner at the event's opening night on Saturday, and some were frank about the rivalry behind the smiles and camaraderie of the amateur fund-raising three-day event.

Singer Ronan Keating was the most blunt about what was really going through the minds of the guests, who signed autographs for the dozens of fans waiting patiently at the hotel entrance.

He said: "We really want to win. We won the cup last year and we want to win again this year. We want to keep it in Europe."

Bruce Forsyth has emerged as the secret weapon on the Europe team. Not least since he scooped the 10,000 diamond pendant for winning the nearest-the-pin contest in Saturday's warm-up session.

Patrick Duffy
Former Dallas star Patrick Duffy is in the American golf team

It is Cooper who is lined up against him. And perhaps with good reason, as he outworks Tiger Woods when it comes to getting in his practice.

He said: "I play more than Tiger plays. I don't play as good as Tiger plays, but I play more.

"I quit drinking 25 years ago, and I took up golf as the substitute. So I told my wife, 'well I drank every day, so I should play golf every day' and somehow that convoluted logic made sense.

"So that's what I do. I live in Arizona and I get up and I'm on a tee at six-thirty every morning."

And underneath the smiles - there was no make-up - the rivalry runs just as deep. He said: "When you need to make that shot - all of a sudden it's real serious."

Jade Morgan, Rachel Szafnauer, Samantha Stribling and Melissa Evans
These four 15 year olds had a successful day's autographing hunting

The competition was just as fierce among the autograph hunters.

Samantha Stribling, 15, from Caerleon, was the most successful of four friends who spent the day watching the golf and then collecting autographs - and kisses on the cheek - from the celebrities.

Samantha had 33 names in her book. She said: "We met all the celebrities. We came last year and had loads of kisses then. "

The fans queued for up to four hours as the stars made a red carpet entrance to their gala dinner.

But the event may be just as tough on the competitors, whether they want a drink or not.




SEE ALSO
Stars turn out for celebrity golf
27 Aug 06 |  South East Wales
Homeowners 'cash in' on Ryder Cup
25 Jul 06 |  South East Wales
Euro celebrities win golf event
30 Aug 05 |  South East Wales
In pictures: Celebrity golf
27 Aug 05 |  In Pictures

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