Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

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July 18, 2010
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AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP | Tolliver wins third title in a rout

STATELINE - By Joe, he did it again.

Former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver won the American Century Championship for the third time, finishing with a record 84 points Sunday in the 54-hole golf tournament for sports and entertainment celebrities.

Tolliver enjoyed a double-digit advantage for most of the final round at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. The onetime signal-caller for the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers, Houston Oilers and Chicago Bears shot a closing 3-under 69, which included two birdies and an eagle on the 18th hole.

Four celebrities shared second place, finishing a record 19 points behind Tolliver. Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo, Hall of Fame QB John Elway, former Atlanta Braves' pitcher John Smoltz and actor Jack Wagner each ended the 54-hole tournament with a total of 65 points.

Tolliver collected $125,000 for first place as he added a third championship trophy to go with the titles he won in 1996 and 2005. His 84 total points broke the previous tournament record of 78 set by former Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Chris Chandler in 2007.

The 12-year NFL quarterback didn't play conservatively in the final round, which began with Tolliver in front by 11 points.

"I told my caddie last night that I'm not straying from the game plan. I'm hitting the shots I always hit, the same club, the same everything," Tolliver said. "In this format, especially with a par-5, par-3 and par-5 finish, somebody could get 28 points if they are incredibly lucky, so I had to go make a score."

Tolliver's first drive avoided the water along the first hole by several yards and then he boldly hit his tee ball on the par-4 second hole over the green. Both big drives netted Tolliver a pair of pars, and he played the remainder of his front nine even with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 third hole and a bogey on the par-3 seventh.

While Tolliver wasn't pouring in the birdie putts like he did in the previous two rounds, no other player in the field was able to capitalize. Elway made a brief charge on the back nine, birdieing the 10th and 11th holes but couldn't deliver the big shot over the final holes, which included a pair of par 5s.

"I played the best golf I could," Elway said. "I knew he was going to be tough to catch because he wasn't going to back up as well as he's been playing.

"One thing I've learned over time is that you can't make too many things happen. I was just trying to make every second shot I could."

The engineer of two Denver Broncos' Super Bowl titles in the late 1990s reached the 546-yard, par-5 16th hole in two, but his eagle try just missed the mark. A double bogey on the final hole denied Elway a chance to finish alone in second place.

"On 16 I had 232 to the pin, and I was talking to Tony that I needed a double eagle, then maybe a hole-in-one on 17 and maybe an eagle on 18. With that, he was still in reach," Elway said.

Tolliver holed his second birdie of the round by hitting a wedge shot within a couple of feet on the 15th hole. He missed a short birdie putt on No. 16, but he didn't let his obvious frustration linger.

On the 17th tee, a woman shouted, "Way to go, Billy Joe." And the relaxed Tolliver told fans, "That's my sister."

The tournament suspense long over, Wagner shook Tolliver's hand before he teed off on the final hole. Wagner, who began the day in second place, 11 points behind Tolliver, thought Tolliver was uncatchable early into his final round.

"Probably No. 3," said Wagner, the 2006 winner. "I just knew I had to come out 3 under on the first four holes, that was the only way.

"I certainly wasn't hoping for a wreck from Billy Joe, because I knew he wasn't going to. It was more of a match for second."

With the title in hand, Tolliver bombed his final drive 373 yards on the 501-yard 18th. That left Tolliver with a sand wedge in to set up his unnecessary eagle finish.

"I hit a pretty good tee ball, the kind that I've wanted to hit all the time there," Tolliver said.

Even though he faced an 18-point deficit to start the final round, Romo thought he had an outside chance of winning.

"I thought I needed help from Billy Joe, but I thought putting up 36 points by being 8-under par (could do it).

"I had a chance on four, about a six-footer for eagle and just missed that. If I make that, we're off to a real good start."

Smoltz said he couldn't overcome a slow start during the first round that left him nine points behind Tolliver.

"Friday actually cost me more than some places. I put myself in a big hole," said Smoltz, who said he shot 64 and 66 in the celebrity-amateur tournaments on Wednesday and Thursday. "Today, I had 16 birdie putts and eagle putt and only made four birdies."

Two-time defending champion Rick Rhoden rallied to finish among the top 10, scoring 23 points to place eighth with a 58 total. It's the first time Rhoden has finished outside the top-4 places in 20 tournament appearances.

Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan scored his best round of the tournament, accumulating 23 points and finished in a tie for 22nd.

Using an assortment of swinging styles, including left-handed, TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley was unable to avoid finishing last in the 82-player field for the fifth straight year. Barkley concluded play with -93 points, six fewer than American bobsled gold medalist Steven Holcomb.

2010 AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP

Sunday's Final Results

At Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, Stateline, Nev.

Modified Stableford Scoring Format (eagle, six points; birdie, 3 points; par, 1 point; bogey, 0 points; and double bogey or rose, -2 points)

Purse: $ 600,000

Par: 36 36 - 72

Yardage: 6,972

Pos Player Scores Official Money

1 Billy Joe Tolliver 25 33 26 - 84 $125,000

T2 John Smoltz 16 25 24 - 65 $47,500

T2 Tony Romo 21 19 25 - 65 Amateur

T2 John Elway 20 25 20 - 65 Amateur

T2 Jack Wagner 26 21 18 - 65 $47,500

6 Mark Rypien 21 16 23 - 60 $25,000

7 Jeremy Roenick 26 14 19 - 59 $20,000

T8 Rick Rhoden 21 14 23 - 58 $14,875

T8 Trent Dilfer 19 18 21 - 58 $14,875

T8 Jamie Langenbrunner 20 17 21 - 58 $14,875

11 Brett Hull 14 18 25 - 57 $10,936

T12 Vince Coleman 16 18 21 - 55 $8,560

T12 Dan Quinn 23 23 9 - 55 $8,560

14 Mark Mulder 24 12 16 - 52 Amateur

15 Grant Fuhr 18 16 16 - 50 $6,825

16 Joe Theismann 15 20 13 - 48 $6,735

17 Mike Modano 18 17 12 - 47 $6,645

T18 Ken Whisenhunt 8 21 17 - 46 $6,465

T18 Bret Saberhagen 12 19 15 46 $6,465

T18 Marshall Faulk 7 23 16 46 $6,465

T18 Dale Jarrett 17 16 13 46 Amateur

T22 Michael Jordan 13 9 23 45 Amateur

T22 Chris Chandler13 13 19 45 $6,285

T22 Joe Sakic 19 11 15 45 Amateur

25 Jerry Rice10 17 17 44 $6,195

26 Steve Bartkowski 16 20 7 - 43 $6,105

27 Oliver Hudson 11 15 16 - 42 $6,015

T28 Dan Jansen 2 17 20 - 39 $5,835

T28 Jim McMahon 5 14 20 - 39 $5,835

T28 Stephen Curry 9 14 16 - 39 $5,835

T28 Neil Lomax 16 11 12 - 39 Amateur

T32 Kyle Boller 12 15 11 - 38 $5,610

T32 Vinny Testaverde 24 7 7 - 38 $5,610

34 Derek Anderson 16 14 7 - 37 $5,475

35 Sterling Sharpe 6 15 15 - 36 $5,385

36 Matt Ryan 9 12 13 - 34 $5,295

37 Alfonso Ribeiro 14 4 15 - 33 $5,205

T38 Robbie Gould 20 -2 12 - 30 $5,070

T38 Wally Szczerbiak 11 10 9 - 30 $5,070

T40 Trent Edwards 8 13 8 - 29 Amateur

T40 Oscar De La Hoya 12 7 10 - 29 Amateur

42 Ozzie Smith 7 12 8 - 27 Amateur

T43 Mike Eruzione 3 15 7 - 25 $4,890

T43 Aaron Rodgers 11 9 5 - 25 $4,890

45 Ronde Barber 5 3 16 - 24 Amateur

T46 Greg Maddux 3 5 13 - 21 Amateur

T46 Todd Haley 18 2 1 - 21 $4,755

48 Jonathan Ogden 1 7 12 - 20 $4,665

49 Joe Don Rooney 4 2 13 - 19 $4,575

50 Kenny Lofton 5 2 10 - 17 $4,485

T51 Joe Carter -5 8 13 - 16 $4,305

T51 Bode Miller 4 2 10 - 16 $4,305

T51 Troy Aikman 16 -4 4 - 16 Amateur

T51 Steve Beuerlein 6 10 0 - 16 $4,305

55 Fred McGriff -5 14 6 - 15 $4,125

T56 Jerome Bettis 4 3 6 - 13 $3,990

T56 Steve Spurrier 4 6 3 - 13 $3,990

58 David Wells -3 5 9 - 11 $3,855

T59 Rodney Harrison 2 6 2 - 10 $3,765

T59 Dan Quayle 5 6 -1 - 10 Amateur

61 Ray Allen-5 11 3 - 9 Amateur

62 Marcus Allen -2 4 6 - 8 $3,675

63 Jason Kidd 0 0 4 - 4 Amateur

64 John Lynch 8 -6 -1 - 1 $3,585

65 John O'Hurley 3 -7 2 - -2 $3,495

66 Mike Shanahan -2 -2 -2 - -6 $3,405

67 Michael Bolton 0 -1 -6 - -7 Amateur

68 Stone Phillips -6 1 -3 - -8 Amateur

69 Aj Hawk -1 -1 -7 - -9 $3,315

70 Jared Allen -6 -8 0 - -14 $3,225

71 Don Cheadle -10 -9 2 - -17 Amateur

T72 Winky Wright -13 -2 -4 - -19 $3,135

T72 Digger Phelps -3 -4 -12 - -19 Amateur

74 Herm Edwards 4 -12 -12 - -20 $3,045

75 Jack Del Rio -14 -1 -7 - -22 Amateur

76 Matt Schaub -6 -10 -7 - -23 Amateur

77 Brian Baumgartner -2 -10 -15 - -27 $2,955

78 Shane Battier -10 -9 -10 - -29 $2,865

79 Ray Romano -6 -17 -10 - -33 Amateur

80 Trent Green -14 -15 -19 - -48 $2,775

81 Steven Holcomb --27 -30 -30 - -87 Amateur

82 Charles Barkley -28 -31 -34 - -93 Amateur

Lou Holtz -10 -10 WD Amateur


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jul 19, 2010 11:51AM Published Jul 18, 2010 07:00PM Copyright 2010 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.