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Foligno, Dubinsky talk golf, Blue Jackets at the Memorial

Columbus players, PGA pros interact at Q&A ahead of tournament

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

There's an old adage that superstar athletes want to be rock stars and vice versa, but Wednesday at Muirfield Village Golf Club, we learned it doesn't quite go both ways for professional golfers and hockey players. 

Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky probably wouldn't mind being a pro golfer, being a member at Muirfield Village, the Dublin, Ohio, golf course that this week along with its architect, Jack Nicklaus, hosts the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament for the 44th time.  

A pretty good golfer in his own right, Dubinsky told a contingent of hundreds of fans at the course Wednesday afternoon that he's downright amazed by the skills of the 150-plus professional golfers who have descended on central Ohio for the annual tournament. 

"It's so much fun to be a part of this and be out here," Dubinsky said at a half-hour long Q&A session held in the course's Golden Bear Club hosted by Fox Sports Ohio's Dave Maetzold. "I think it's nice on a week like this to walk around and watch these guys because to play as much golf as I do during the summer, it's a different sound off their club faces. 

"Knowing how challenging this golf course is, I've probably been almost everywhere, and watching the guys pull off these shots, you can't say enough about how special these guys are as players. It's amazing." 

Nick Foligno, though, isn't as much a golfer, so the CBJ has a slightly different view of things. 

"I kind of stay away from golf because it's just frustrating," he said. "I'm a perfectionist. I hate sucking at things. … At least in hockey if you're not playing great, you get to punch somebody. That's why I like the sport." 

The two Blue Jackets were joined in the discussion by PGA Tour pros Pat Perez and Keith Mitchell, and it's fair to say neither of them are going to be trading their spikes for skates anytime soon. 

While Foligno pointed out the long-haired Perez has the coifs for hockey, the 43-year-old from Phoenix replied that skating doesn't exactly come naturally to him, as previous attempts to skate with some friends who played the Coyotes have shown.  

"I put all the stuff on, feet are killing me, I'm banging up against the boards," he said. "They give me the puck and I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I tried to shoot right-handed but I actually was a lefty somehow. The speed the guys have on the ice is unbelievable. I've never seen anything like it. I have these fans looking at me through the glass like, 'Who the hell is that guy?'" 

The Q&A touched on some serious topics, but most of the discussion was lighthearted and full of laughs and back-and-forths between the hockey players and golfers. 

For example, when the topic of favorite cities to visit came up, Foligno couldn't help but point out the Tour visits warm-weather locales in February while the Blue Jackets could be in Edmonton. 

"You guys play inside, though," Perez countered. "It doesn't matter what the weather is. We have storms tomorrow." 

"We also have 220-pound dudes trying to kill us out there," Foligno countered.  

A noted clotheshorse, Dubinsky gave his thoughts on fashion as well, from the shorts PGA Tour players are now allowed to wear during practice rounds ("It makes them look like me out there -- amateurs.") to his frustrations the Blue Jackets often are required to travel during the season in suits despite the fact the private airway terminals and arena loading dock entrances are outside of the public eye ("It's just old. It's dated.") 

There was a little hockey talk, though, as Maetzold asked about the team's playoff run that delighted Columbus -- and made Foligno and Dubinsky the focus of the bulk of the photo requests before and after the chat. 

"I think for us it was just a great way to kind of solidify our relationship with our fans," Foligno said. "I think you guys have been with us through thick and thin, and obviously had some tough years. To be able to show you the quality of hockey that we're bringing year after year, I think we're really looking to be able to move that needle forward toward a championship. 

"I think the best thing I saw is when we beat Tampa at home, the jubilation from everybody in the arena from not just us but from the ushers, the crowd, the people who have been involved all along and were dying to see us win it. The amount of pride that I saw from everybody was just so gratifying for us. We can't wait to make you guys more proud coming up next year." 

The tournament begins Thursday and runs through Sunday at the course in northwest Columbus. Bryson DeChambeau is the reigning champion, while Tiger Woods -- who is in this year's field after winning The Masters this year -- has a record five wins. 

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