Justin Bieber: Mannish Boy

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Bieber goofs around through a few more holes. He takes a call from someone who is almost certainly Selena Gomez, his girlfriend (he says "I love you" at the end). He shows off a photo Rihanna just posted on Instagram of herself kissing someone in a Justin Bieber mask ("Check it out," he says, excitedly. "That's swaggy, bro"). He plays a few good-natured pranks, bumping Kenny's golf cart and unstrapping a bag of clubs that turns out to be his own. ("I guess I pranked myself," he says with a smile after it tumbles into the fairway.) He seems to be having a really good time – right up until the moment on the fifth hole when Ryan looks up and groans: "How are they here?"

Up on a hill, on the other side of a fence, two paparazzi are snapping pictures with telephoto lenses. Someone at the course must have tipped them off. Instantly, Bieber's mood darkens.

He's had bad luck with photographers lately. A few weeks earlier, he and Gomez were leaving a movie when they got into an altercation with some paparazzi who were blocking their way. Bieber allegedly threw a punch; the investigation is still ongoing. A few days after the golf game, he'll be ticketed for doing 80 on an L.A. freeway while allegedly trying to evade another paparazzi. The poor kid can't even walk into a glass wall – as he's done, twice – without making headlines all over the world. "No one's ever grown up like Justin Bieber," says his manager, Scooter Braun. "Ever, in the history of humanity."

Teen Choice Awards 2012

Moshe hops out of his cart and rushes the photographers, dialing the number for the L.A. sheriff with one hand and gesturing angrily with the other. There's a brief standoff while Bieber finishes the hole and the paps snap away. But then Bieber decides to take matters into his own hands. "Watch," he says. "I'm gonna blast one at them."

"Justin has two sides," says Braun. "On one side he's probably the most mature and aware teenager on the planet. And on the other side he's a little kid – like, literally, a kid." Right now, the kid is pulling out his nine-iron and dropping a ball at his feet. The entourage moves like they're going to stop him (Kenny: "Still an open case, still an open case!"), but no one does. Bieber rears back and launches the ball over the photographers' heads – their best shot of the day, if they weren't too busy ducking – and then hops in his cart and heads back to the clubhouse.

"They're not supposed to be here," he grumbles on the way. "It's superprivate property." Then he spots three more photographers staked out right on the course. He covers his face with his baseball cap and drives blindly for a while, no doubt violating all kinds of PGA rules, then somehow miraculously arrives safely back at the clubhouse. "How'd it go?" a club official asks.

"Um, not too good," Bieber says diplomatically. The guy asks if Bieber's going to play the back nine, and he shakes his head. "We'll probably never play here again," he says under his breath – sounding not so much angry as disappointed. He takes off his glove and starts packing up to leave. Then, out of nowhere, the club's special-events guy appears, holding a little point-and-shoot.

"Hey, Justin?" he says. "Before you go – can we get a picture?"

The next afternoon, Bieber is in Burbank to tape an episode of The Tonight Show. By the time he pulls up around 1:45 p.m. in his Sprinter van, he's almost an hour late. He's wearing a white T-shirt and red heart-shaped 3D glasses, which he got the night before at the premiere for Katy Perry's concert documentary, Part of Me (basically an attempt to recreate the $100-million-worldwide success of Bieber's own documentary, Never Say Never, a ruthlessly uplifting piece of pop-aganda that in terms of heroic myth-creation rivals Triumph of the Will).

Bieber had a late night, but not as late as it could have been. Following the premiere, he headed to the afterparty with Perry, Gomez and Twilight star Robert Pattinson. But when he realized it was at a club, he decided to go home instead. He just turned 18 in March, and even though he partied with Mike Tyson and Kim Kardashian and got a rose-gold Rolex Daytona from his lawyer, he doesn't want to be seen around booze in public. He's been enjoying other perks of adulthood, though: For one thing, he's a homeowner now. He recently bought a seven-bedroom, 10,000-square-foot mansion in Calabasas that used to belong to Eddie Murphy's ex-wife and came complete with a game room, a movie theater and a wine cellar that he can't legally use for three more years. "It's really nice," Bieber says. "Not too big, not too small. Perfect for my first house."

This morning, Bieber woke up around 11, rolled out of bed, squeezed in a quick workout of 25 sit-ups and 50 push-ups, trundled downstairs and ate a bowl of Frosted Flakes, skated for a while on the half-pipe in his backyard, got hot, jumped into the pool, came back inside to take a shower, and then came to the TV studio. Now he's sitting in his dressing room, enjoying a Big Mac and an Oreo McFlurry, and strumming his guitar.

Bieber started playing guitar when he was six. He's left-handed, so he first learned upside-down, like Jimi Hendrix. His dad taught him some, but mostly he learned by ear, which is the same way he figures stuff out today. "Do you know this one?" he says, bending a few strings. "It's 'Sweet Child O' Mine'!" He plays it again, and sure enough, swap out a few notes and make it twice as fast, and he's nailed it.

Justin Bieber's 'Believe' Scores the Year's Best Debut Week

Pretty soon there's a knock at the door; Jay Leno pops in. "What's up, big guy?" he says. "How are you?"

"Hey, man!" says Bieber. "Thank you so much for having me." They visit for a few minutes – Leno says he recently bought a Cadillac like Bieber's ("But you have the automatic – I got the stick"), and the host takes his leave. "Such a nice guy," Bieber says after he's gone. "He does that before every show. Last time, he brought my mom flowers. Letterman doesn't do that."

Bieber was on Letterman a week earlier, and it didn't go well. At one point the host took notice of his new tattoo – the word BELIEVE, on the inside of his left forearm – and teased him about turning his body into the Sistine Chapel. "I'm not going for the whole Sixteenth Chapel look," Bieber said, much to David Letterman's delight. ("I knew what it was," Bieber says this afternoon. "I was making a joke." Braun, however, suspects otherwise: "The poor kid had no clue. I saw his tutor the next day, and I was like, 'Seriously?'")

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Photograph by Mark Seliger
Justin Bieber, Mannish Boy: The 2012 Cover Story
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