Jeter Golf Classic a big hit for charity

Course chilly, but Jeter's golf outing a hit

TAMPA, Fla. -- Kerplunk!

Derek Jeter's first shot off the tee on the 5th hole at Avila Golf & Country Club hooked far left of the green and plopped right into the water.

As the host of his 4th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic on Monday, Jeter was stationed at the par-3 tee box to greet and thank each foursome as it made its jaunt around the picturesque golf course.

He would repeat the failed attempt two more times before knocking a high arching 9-iron shot 10 feet from the hole, drawing cheers from his father, Dr. S. Charles Jeter, and the foursome that included Buffalo Bills great Bruce Smith.

"That's more like it," Jeter shouted, eliciting laughter from the contingent of media and volunteers that lined the tee box.

Aside from Jeter's adventures on the golf course and the chilly 45-degree morning in Florida, the Yankees shortstop was more pleased about the staging and results of his golf tournament.

"I'm honored to be able to host such an event and to have such support from my friends to benefit a worthy cause," said Jeter, who established the Turn 2 Foundation in 1996 to give back to various communities including West Michigan, Tampa and New York. "I'm committed to doing everything I can to help and encourage kids that they can reach their goals no matter how difficult it appears sometimes. My role off the field is just as important as my role on the field."

More than 125 golfers attended the event that benefited Turn 2 Foundation programs in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, including Phoenix House's Derek Jeter Academy, the Derek Jeter Scholarship administered by the Hillsborough Education Foundation, and the St. Peter Claver School scholarship fund.

Some of Jeter's friends who made it for the event included Michael Jordan, Ahmad Rashad, Jerome Bettis, and several current or former Yankees: Jorge Posada, Johnny Damon, Miguel Cairo, Tino Martinez, Gary Sheffield, Tanyon Sturtze, Lou Piniella and Don Zimmer.

With Jeter spending more and more of the winter and spring months in the Tampa area, he has become involved with supporting area causes.

The Academy, which has been in the planning stages for more than a year, is expected to open some time this year. Jeter plans to be as involved as possible with the residential high school, which will be geared towards troubled teens who can receive drug and alcohol treatment while earning an education.

"This is a reflection of what Derek stands for as a person," said his proud father, who serves as vice president of the foundation. "To be able to give back the way we've been able to is what the whole journey means. He's been able to reach farther than we ever expected and it is truly a blessing as a parent to see the type of man he's become."

The golf tournament was the culmination of a weekend that began with the Launch Party on Saturday night at the Rattlefish Bar and Grill in Tampa, followed by a practice round on Sunday morning at the Tournament Players Club of Tampa Bay. On Sunday night, at the Celebrity Auction Draw Party, Jordan again brought in the most money with a bid of $43,000 and Zimmer was a surprise second place with a bid of $20,000.

Since the inception of the classic, Turn 2 has committed more than $400,000 to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.

Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.