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Dearth Works on the Fundamentals ... of Golf


James Dearth walked into Tuesday's sixth annual New York Jets Charity Golf Classic as a defending champion, having been on the winning team the past two years.

"Grip it 'n' rip it," Dearth said when asked if he had a motto for his approach to golf. "No, I'm just kidding. I really don't. I just try to go out and have fun."

But you may have thought he really had gone to the Lawrence Taylor academy of golf if you saw the shots he was launching while warming up on the driving range before today's tournament.

Power clearly isn't an issue for the Jets' 270-pound long-snapper. He made it a point to focus on adding a pinch of finesse to his game to avoid launching balls out of bounds.

"That's what I've got to stop doing if I want to be good," he said.

Dearth was quick to give credit to his teammates for the past two tournament victories and insisted he isn't a good-luck charm.

"I'm not that good at golf," he said. "These guys coached me up last year. I couldn't hit a ball straight to save my life.

"I get too tense. Those guys were just telling me I've got to stop gripping it so tight and just relax.

"When I do that, I hit it straight."

He also claims to play golf only once a year, but is making an exception this year. He's playing another charity tournament on Friday, where he'll be joined by Jets safety Eric Smith to help raise money for a friend whose wife has been diagnosed with cancer.

Dearth also took a moment to give some praise to Jets head coach Rex Ryan, who was among the many Jets personnel in attendance at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

"Oh, he's great," said Dearth. "He's a good, fun guy. At the same time, he's a tough coach. He wants you to work hard. You know, that's to be expected of your head coach. He makes it fun. I love his knowledge of the game, and the direction he's taking us, it's good."

Ryan has added some competition to the long-snapper position at the off-season activities. Dearth is up for the challenge, but faces some stiff competition from undrafted rookie Andrew Davie, also a tight end and long snapper, and defensive tackle Anthony Harris, who played defensive tackle and long-snapped for two midwestern indoor teams for the past four seasons.

While glowing over his new coach, Dearth was stopped in his tracks when he saw a familiar face walking towards him. He and Wayne Chrebet, another of the Classic's guest players, chatted it up with for a while before beginning the day's events

Dearth might be saving his luck for his friend's upcoming charity event, because his team ended Dearth's championship streak and finished the best-ball tournament at 2-under-par, tied for 14th place and well off the pace set by Danny Woodhead's 11-under winning fivesome.

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