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Posted on Thu, Feb. 10, 2005

Let's dispel those nasty rumors

I'll save most of the details for my memoirs, which will appear on the shelves of finer bookstores someday soon.

For the record, though, I feel the need to address those nasty tabloid rumors that claim that Michael Douglas, the famous actor, no longer comes to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am because of me.

The truth is, part of the story is true. Douglas, the handsome star of "Basic Instinct" and "Romancing the Stone," was a popular attraction at this golf tournament for several years, until one fateful evening when he found his future wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, standing in the moonlight with me, The Gopher.

Let me say, right off the bat, that nothing happened between Ms. Jones and me. It's never been my style to flirt with another man's woman -- but the moon was full, emotions were high, and there were misunderstandings.

Here's the true story:

Catherine ("Cat," I called her) flew into Monterey to surprise him at the tournament. Douglas had something to do after his round -- who knows what? -- and didn't make it back to the hotel until later that night.

I just happened to be trenching out a new addition to my home, right through the 18th fairway, when I saw her, a vision in white, walking barefoot through the lapping tides of Stillwater Cove. Her beautiful, tear-stained face was glowing in the moonlight. She was sad, angry, vulnerable. It was clear that she needed a friend.

And me? I was just a lonely gopher, still recovering from the traumas of that well-publicized firefight with Bill Murray a few years earlier at Bushwood Country Club.

Quite frankly, things were less than perfect between Cat and Michael back then, and she simply needed a furry shoulder to cry on. So we had clandestine meetings all week, whenever she could steal away.

Our friendship blossomed quickly, but, honestly, that's all there was. I knew she loved Michael deeply -- she told me that again and again.

And, let's face it, she was Catherine Zeta Jones, and I was just a gopher. Just a gopher. The princess only kisses the frog in fairy tales.

I don't blame Michael for jumping to conclusions. He discovered us one night in the courtyard of The Lodge, talking in whispered tones, and, not surprisingly, there was a scene.

They argued. Mike wanted to fight me. Cat sobbed uncontrollably. "I'm so confused," she wailed.

Lights were clicking on all over The Lodge. I could see people peeking at us through their curtains. Rush Limbaugh staggered into the courtyard in his boxer shorts and bellowed, "Pipe down out there -- I'm watching O'Reilly!"

Eventually, hotel security showed up and told us to take it elsewhere. Douglas poked a menacing finger into my furry chest and snarled, "Let's settle this thing, man to gopher. Meet me at Ocean's Thunder at midnight!"

Ocean's Thunder... yeah, I'd been there before. It's a joint over there on Lighthouse Avenue where the bands are loud, the drinks are cheap, and you can generally have a pretty good time if you don't tip over all those motorcycles parked out front.

When I walked in at midnight, Douglas was already there, hunkered at the end of the bar, wearing a food-stained undershirt with a pack of Chesterfields rolled up in the sleeve. He had half a bottle of Wild Turkey in front of him.

He glared at me as I came through the door, jutted his dimpled chin toward the pool table and said, "Here's the deal, gopher: One game, straight pool... winner gets her."

I had no intention of stealing his woman, but I knew he'd never buy that -- not in the mood he was in. So we played. I lost. And he married her.

You know the rest. They're one of Hollywood's all-time power couples, living in a big, fancy mansion on a hill overlooking the glitzy lights of L.A. Happily ever after, and all that. And me? I'm here, alone, sleeping in a dank, stinky little hole, like Saddam Hussein.

So, there's the story. That's why Michael Douglas doesn't come here anymore. I feel bad about that -- in a way, I wish I'd never met her -- but, hey, life goes on. I'd like them to know that I wish them well.

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