Actors, politician not afraid of competition
July 17, 2009
STATELINE – The American Century Classic is full of Hall of Famers and All-Stars who have excelled in the professional sports world.
Of the 90 participants in the 2009 tournament field, only 13 gained their fame through other means than sports.
In the 19 years of the tournament, Jack Wagner, an actor who has been in “General Hospital,” is the only nonprofessional athlete to win the tournament. After finishing near the top numerous times, Wagner broke through with a championship effort in 2006.
Several nonprofessional athletes in this year’s tournament said they were not worried about the amount of athletic skill around them and are still hopeful about a tournament victory.
“I think it is unfair,” said Kevin Nealon, an actor that was on “Saturday Night Live” and appeared in “Happy Gilmore” along with various other movies and television shows. “These guys are more football players, baseball players, hockey players, where I am a very good golfer. To put them against me is a little bit lopsided, but I give them tips along the way and try to help them out a little bit.”
As of Wednesday, the only person in the tournament to have worse odds of winning than Nealon is Charles Barkley, according to the Harrah’s/Harvey’s betting odds.
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Wagner has the highest odds among nonathletes to win the tournament with 7/1 odds.
Wagner said he has been working out and hitting golf balls and hopes to win this year.
“The only person that beats myself every year is myself,” Wagner said. “I just want to play, not let myself beat me.”
Nealon said he has a different way to prepare.
“To prepare for something like this, I put post-it notes out every morning about a week before I come up here to remind me to wear suntan lotion,” Nealon said. “I have a litany of excuses I try to come up with, prewritten, and I keep them on the post-it notes as well in my pocket. I also work with my ball retriever at home a lot in the water, actually in the bathtub to practice getting my balls out of the lakes. Those are the three main things right there.”
Former Vice President Dan Quayle said through his 15 years of experience at the tournament that he does not get very worried about the competition.
“Of course I come out here to win, but I don’t think the odds are very good,” Quayle said. “They are very competitive folks. They are as competitive on the golf course as they were at the sport they excelled in; some of them are very good.”
The odds for Quayle to win are 50/1, and he tees off at 9:25 a.m. today.
The person with the best odds to win is Rick Rhoden at 9/5. Wagner will tee off with Rhoden at 10 a.m. today to start the tournament.
Rhoden, the former big-league pitcher, has won the event seven times.
Nealon said the fun in the tournament would come with winning.
“I am not only here to win, I am here to take no prisoners,” Nealon said. “The fun that is involved is watching some of these professional athletes lose to me.”