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Money Shots

The third annual Buccaneers Golf Classic, presented by Publix Super Markets, raised spirits, not to mention big funds for the United Way


K Martin Gramatica comes to the top of his swing before teeing off during the Buccaneers Golf Classic presented by Publix Super Markets

Martin Gramatica addresses the ball, quiets his feet, aims a little bit to the left and then uses his whole body to drive the object downfield.

Quick: Which sport, football or golf?

The clue in the above description is Gramatica's aim. Unlike on the football field, where the Pro Bowl kicker tends to aim a little bit right of center to balance a natural hook, on the golf course he looks a little to the left to correct a slice.

This is one thing we learned on the course at the Lone Palm Golf Club on Monday, April 30. That's where the third annual Buccaneers Golf Classic, presented by Publix Super Markets and benefiting the United Way, was held and where dozens of Tampa Bay players and coaches took their swings at another challenging sport.

Other things that became apparent on Monday:

  • Not many Bucs will jump directly to the PGA when their playing careers are over. Or, as Head Coach Tony Dungy summed it up: "Most of these guys better keep their day jobs."
  • Derrick Brooks works better under pressure. After starting off slowly on his first two holes, Brooks mashed a monster drive on number 18 when the Fox 13 television camera caught up with him.

"It took me about two holes to warm up but I think I've settled down now," said the Pro Bowl linebacker, adding rather randiosely: "Hopefully, we can ride this hot streak of mine to the win."

  • Todd Yoder wears number 80 but might want to get familiar with 'Fore'. Teeing off on the par-3 15th, Yoder sliced a high shot to the right, which shot off the cart path near LB Shelton Quarles' cart and was caught neatly on one hop by Gramatica's brother, Santiago, who was waiting to tee off on 16.

Oh, one more thing, the most important fact we learned: Publix and the Buccaneers can sure put on a whale of a charity golf tournament.

Of course, this isn't exactly breaking news. In its first two years, the Buccaneers Golf Classic, presented by Publix Super Markets, raised a total of $383,250. All proceeds have gone to, and will once again go to, the various agencies of the United Ways of Central Florida, Hillsborough County and Pinellas County.

Dungy, who rode most of the course with Warren Sapp's group but was along mainly for moral support, hopes this year's event will be the best yet in terms of charitable help.

"We hope to exceed (the 1999-2000 totals)," said Dungy. "Since we've hooked up with Publix on this the last couple of years, it's been great. They do a great job of putting it on, and we've had a lot of participation from our players, which makes it go. The United Ways of West Central Florida benefit and that makes us all happy."

Both the Buccaneers and Publix have enjoyed long and fruitful relationships with the United Way. The Bucs, in fact, have partnered with the United Way since the team's inception in 1976 and the team's many players and coaches through the years have donated countless hours and unlimited energy during that time.

Publix has made the United Way its corporate charity and its associates pledged $12.7 million to the charity in 2000. Publix pledged commitment to the United Way, when matched by Publix Super Market Charities, will exceed $21.8 million this year.

The Buccaneers Golf Classic is one of the more visible means of that contribution, and Publix describes it as 'the perfect way to support a worthy cause while having a lot of fun.'

That is exactly the approach taken by the Buccaneers' players and coaches on Monday. "We're having fun," said Dungy. "It's a great event for the United Way. The big thing is to have fun, and they seem to be doing that."

Added Brooks: "Right now, I'm just out here for the pure enjoyment of the game."

Dungy doesn't mind seeing his players take a weekday away from their own game to blow off steam with another. "At this time of the year, we've gone through the strenuous part of our program and they'll have some time off now," he said. "They need to be out here having fun."

Gramatica had a good time trying to get the little white ball to fly as straight as the big pigskins he kicks through the uprights. Beyond the reversed correction he puts on his swing, the prolific kicker pointed out one more difference between golf and football, at least for him.

"This is a lot tougher," said Gramatica.

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