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Wahlberg Only Amateur to Break 100 in U.S. Open Challenge


Actor Mark Wahlberg was the only player among the four in the U.S. Open Challenge to break the century mark at Pebble Beach Golf Links. On Wednesday, Wahlberg shot a 97 on the same set-up that will be used for next week's U.S. Open.

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky triple-bogeyed the final hole for a 100 and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees shot a 102. Amateur Peggy Ference carded a 119 on the 7,040-yard course.

A PGA Tour member caddied for each player. Rickie Fowler looped for Wahlberg, Ricky Barnes carried for Gretzky, Bubba Watson caddied for Brees, and Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin was with Ference.

Ference, who plays to a 4.9 handicap at her club in Skillman, N.J., won an essay contest with 24,860 entries to earn a spot in the celebrity grouping. Her drives went only about 200 yards, and she failed to reach the red tees on some holes. She shot a 62 on the front nine and a 57 on the back. Her only par came on No. 12.

"I just had to try to get it in the short stuff as quickly as possible," the 51-year-old Ference said. "Just to learn how to hit the shot to get it out of the rough was very challenging."

After she cleared the 150-yard canyon on the eighth hole, Ference raised her arms in celebration and gave Pavin a hug. "This was really about the game of golf and how anybody can play it from any set of tees in any conditions," Ference said. "I have so much appreciation for what the PGA Tour players encounter, not just in the U.S. Open, but regular tournaments too."

Fellow Cherry Valley member Susan Sardi accompanied her friend on the dream round. "The great thing was how everyone treated Peggy," Sardi said. "They were so nice. It seemed like it was her wedding day. Corey Pavin was so kind and unbelievably giving to her because he really wanted (Peggy) to play well."

It was a calm day for half the round until the foursome turned inland, when gusts of 25 mph blew in the players' face. "It felt like a hurricane," said Wahlberg, who had the highest handicap in the group, a 14. "I'm glad it's over. It was tough out there."

Wahlberg, who entered the round with the highest handicap in the group at 14, shot 50-47. He closed with a par on the par-5 18th after finding the green in three and two-putting. "Those three shots I hit on No. 18 were probably the highlight of the day," he said.

The made-for-TV event that will air June 20 arose following comments by Tiger Woods during the 2007 U.S. Open when he said a 10-handicap couldn't break 100 on a U.S. Open setup.