10 takeaways from Justin Timberlake’s 8AM Golf Invitational

The third annual 8 am Invitational presented by Justin Timberlake at Wynn Las Vegas was a hit.

Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon teamed up at the third annual 8 am Golf Invitational

8 am Golf

The third-annual 8AM Golf Invitational presented by Justin Timberlake returned to the Wynn Las Vegas last weekend — and the field was, well, star-studded. JT and Jimmy Fallon tried to defend their two-man scramble title; Blake Griffin made his first appearance with a championship (and retirement party) on his mind; and a slew of celeb karaoke performances stole the show to cap off a great weekend in Sin City. 

I was lucky enough to be among the (non-celebrity!) attendees. After a few days to reflect on my time at the event, here are the 10 takeaways that stuck with me. 

1. Justin Timberlake is chasing golf perfection

Timberlake — the host of the event and an 8AM Golf partner — is obsessed with golf, and it doesn’t take much time around him to witness that obsession come to life. Two moments stood out to me while watching JT in action:

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After the Worldwide Technology Shoot Out on Day 1, JT was determined to prove that he could place his ball inside that of the tournament winner, Archie Bradley. It was the type of shot you dread hitting: 63 yards over water into a small green with a tight pin placement. Long after Bradley won the challenge and the crowd had dispersed, Timberlake was still there on the tee box, hitting balls at the pin. There was no talking, and certainly no messing around. Timberlake wouldn’t call it a day until he’d stuck an approach inside Bradley’s five feet. (Which he eventually did.)

As the event was nearing its conclusion on Day 2, Timberlake and Fallon faced a 30-footer for birdie. They both came within inches of making the putt before walking away with par. 

There wasn’t anyone left on the course at this point. Everyone was on their way back to the hotel to get ready for the evening festivities. But Timberlake wasn’t going anywhere until he proved he could make the putt. I’m convinced he would’ve stayed there all night if it came down to it. Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary. After a few more tries, he rattled home the putt and headed off into the night.

Timberlake’s obsession with perfection might not be limited to being a global pop superstar.

2. Jimmy Fallon is always on

Timberlake’s wingman put on a show unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Fallon was “on” for 48 hours straight. There isn’t a person on-site who didn’t leave entertained by the Tonight Show host. 

It was exhausting just to watch him in action. Whether it was his ’80s retro boom box, quick-witted remarks on the mic, his physical comedy or lengthy karaoke performance on Saturday night, the man was a machine — and he was rightfully named 8AM Invitational MVP.  

After witnessing it in person, I can tell you confidently that Fallon’s energy on television is absolutely not a show for the cameras. On several occasions, I spotted him going up to staff on the course to introduce himself and make them smile. Fallon aims to make all in his presence laugh, and there was laughter all weekend. 

Jimmy Fallon brough the noise, in more ways than one, to the 8 am Invitational.
Jimmy Fallon brought the noise, in more ways than one, to the 8AM Invitational. 8AM Golf

3. Blake Griffin and Chandler Parsons are a dangerous duo 

The former NBA duo of Blake Griffin and Chandler Parsons leaned on their prodigious athletic ability to win the 2024 8AM Invitational, but their vibes were the real winner.

You knew when you were within a few holes of a Griffin and Parsons from the sounds of their cheers and laughter. They don’t take their golf (or themselves) seriously, and I mean that as a compliment. Griffin’s deadpan humor is nearly as impressive as his on-court prowess. Parsons and Griffin tore down the house on Saturday night with their karaoke performance of Shaggy’s “Angel,” and the crowd lit up when Griffin hit the Ryvon rap verse.  

4. Andrew Santino is a stick

Santino is one of the hottest comedians in the world right now, and a personal favorite of mine. (I highly recommend watching his Netflix special.) And while I consider myself a fan, I wasn’t aware he was also a stick.

On the Dewar’s closest-to-the-pin challenge on the par-3 12th, I was struck by Santino’s disappointment with hitting the “wrong” side of the green. Michael Phelps then asked what his handicap was, and Santino laughed.

“Two or three.”

There’s nothing funny about Santino’s swing. I watched him play a few other holes, and it was quite impressive. 

5. Kathryn Newton had the sweetest swing in the field 

Newton is the tempo queen of the celebrity golf circuit. She looks effortlessly smooth on the course. One of these years she’ll leave with some 8AM hardware to show for it. 

6. Athletes are always competing

With myriad closest-to-the-pin events over the weekend, there were plenty of opportunities for the former athletes in the field to compete. And perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that they approached each challenge with the expectation of winning. It’s all fun and games until there’s something on the line.

Players were yelling at the groups around them on both tournament days to find out the closest-to-the-pin leader. Watching guys like CC Sabathia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, Shane Victorino and Jason Williams get after it and bust each other’s chops gave me a small glimpse of what they were probably like during their playing days.

It’s that kind of drive for perfection that makes these athletes so successful at their professions, and their imperfection with golf makes them relatable to the everyday golfer.

7. Dexter Fowler and Joe Haden have some pipes

After 8AM Golf Invitational play concluded on Saturday, Fowler and Haden took the karaoke stage for solo performances. Maybe it was the Dewar’s-fueled confidence, but the former MLB and NFL stars were feeling it up there. 

Fowler crushed it with his Usher impression, and Haden had everyone on their feet for “Forgot about Dre,” which was so good that it enticed JT to contribute a verse. 

Joe Haden performing at Karaoke night during the 2024 8 am Invitational
Joe Haden performing at Karaoke night during the 2024 8AM Invitational 8AM Golf

8. Andrew Whitworth is a gentle giant 

Whitworth, the former NFL lineman, is one of the largest human beings I’ve ever been around. I can’t imagine what it was like to oppose him on the football field. When I shook Whitworth’s hand, it reminded me of the famous photo of Andre the Giant holding a beer can in his palm. 

Fortunately for me, he took it easy and didn’t squeeze. You can tell he understands his superhuman strength next to us mere mortals.

While Whitworth might not be getting down in the trenches on the field anymore, he still gets down on the dance floor. It was hard to miss him front and center during Saturday night’s karaoke performances. They always say it’s the footwork that makes the great lineman. 

9. Wynn Las Vegas is as good as it gets

Fun Fact: This was my first visit to Vegas.

I’m not sure why, but I’d never had an excuse to visit. (Probably because I’m not a huge gambler.) Still, I spent my first night roaming up and down the strip to see what Sin City was all about. I popped my head into several hotels, casinos, bars, and restaurants to get a sense of it all before the golf festivities began.

I can honestly say I’m thrilled I spent my weekend at the Wynn. It is by far the nicest place I hung out — and I’m not sure there was a close second. From the room to the casino to the dining options to the golf club, it was all top-notch. 

If I did Vegas again, Wynn would be my first choice. 

10. Drew Stoltz is a natural-born entertainer 

Stoltz, better known as Sleaze to fans of GOLF’s Subpar podcast, played the role of tournament emcee. He might not be a household celebrity compared to most of those in the field, but I would argue he’s every bit as entertaining as the folks there over the weekend. Watching Sleaze and Fallon riff on dueling mics was a moment I won’t soon forget.

Nobody is off limits for Stoltz’s quick wit, and his game demands respect from all who tee it up with him. Let’s not forget he finished runner-up back-to-back years at the USGA Four-Ball. Sleaze got the chance to show off his game on Saturday and didn’t disappoint. 

Let’s just say the birdie juice was flowing all day long at the 8AM Golf Invitational for the most electrifying man in golf podcasting. 

Tim Reilly headshot

Golf.com Editor

As VP of Digital Programming, Reilly oversees GOLF’s multimedia teams and helps content come to life through print and digital mediums in collaboration. When the Long Island native checks out for a few hours, he can be found taking a twilight stroll with his push-cart. Contact:

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