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Crane teeing it up with Jack and Arnie for charity

Astros owner joining golf's biggest legends in pro-am at Floridian National

HOUSTON -- For Astros owner Jim Crane, the biggest sporting event taking place Sunday has nothing to do with pigskin, cheerleaders or clever commercials.

Crane will skip Super Bowl pregame for a chance to play nine holes of golf with two of the game's biggest legends -- Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus -- as part of a charity tournament being held at his Floridian National Golf Club in Palm City, Fla.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime deal," Crane said. "It's going to be a great day."

The Floridian, which Crane purchased in April 2010, is playing host to a pro-am tournament to benefit the son of former PGA Tour player and current Champions Tour player Dana Quigley. His son, Devon, was seriously injured in a car accident late last year. The pros will be grouped with four amateurs at a cost of $25,000 per group.

The tournament participants, including Crane, will have dinner at Nicklaus' house in Orlando on Saturday night. Crane hopes the event, which is closed to the public, can raise between $700,000-800,000.

"The pros stick together," Crane said. "The older group [of players] tries to take care of each other and they asked if we'd let them use the facility, and we said 'Yes.' All these guys signed up. It's a great tribute to them to help one of their fellow players out."

In addition to Palmer and Nicklaus, the pros who have agreed to participate represent a who's who in golf: Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins, Steve Elkington, Nick Price and Fuzzy Zoeller will play to raise money.

"That's 900 wins and 60-something Majors," said Crane, a scratch golfer. "It's going to be fun."

Crane will play 18 holes -- nine holes with both Palmer and Nicklaus -- which is a rare opportunity in golf. He's met both men in the past and insists he won't be nervous.

"I've played in a number of tournaments," Crane said. "The pressure bothers everybody in golf. One day you think you've got it, and the next day you don't."

Later in the week, Crane will participate -- as he does each year -- in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. But he's thrilled his home course will first host the greats of the game, raising money in the process.

"We have a beautiful course and a beautiful facility, and it's set up nicely to handle something like this," said Crane.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.
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