AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP | Barkley loses golf wager, lays out swing plan for final round |

AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP | Barkley loses golf wager, lays out swing plan for final round

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Steve Yingling / Tahoe Daily TribuneHall of Fame quarterback John Elway, right, has a new caddie on his bag for the American Century Championship, and the initial results have been good.

STATELINE – Charles Barkley hasn’t stopped entertaining, even though his golfing game only seems to get worse.

During the American Century Championship’s second round on Friday, a fan reportedly proposed a $50 wager to Barkley that he couldn’t land his tee shot on the green on the par-3 seventh hole.

“What am I going to do with $50?” Barkley responded to the spectator.

The fan than upped the ante to $200 and Barkley went for the wager.

Predictably, Barkley’s tee shot didn’t even come to close the green, and spectator left with the NBA Hall of Famer’s money.

Barkley has more excitement in store for fans during Sunday’s final round. “Sir Charles” has announced that to keep his infamous hitched swing to a minimum, he plans to drive left-handed, hit his irons with his right arm and pitch shots from 80 yards in from the right side with both arms. He also will put right-handed.

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The multiple formations have left Barkley’s caddie, Chris Detsch, perplexed, according to Phil Weidinger, the event’s public relations director.

“Geez, Charles, first I have to figured out the yardage based on your hitch. Now I have figure the yardage based on your one-armed swing,” said Detsch, a former men’s champion at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

Barkley is scheduled to tee off Ray Romano at 10:20 a.m. Sunday on the 10th tee. After two rounds, Barkley is last in the 82-player field with -59 points. He can still catch American bobsledder Steven Holcomb, who is two points in front of Barkley.

Elway has a new weapon in his corner

If you’ve seen John Elway play during past ACCs, then you may have noticed that he had a new caddie Saturday.

Vince Sakowski has carried the bag for Elway during the tournament’s first 20 years. Sakowski is a former Stanford roommate and baseball teammate of Elway’s. But Elway turned over the caddying duties to his daughter’s boyfriend Jeff Nickless.

“I think he’ll eventually be my son-in-law, but they haven’t gotten to that point yet,” Elway said.

Elway is in fourth place heading into Sunday’s final round. The former Denver Broncos’ quarterback trails leader Billy Joe Tolliver by 13 points.

“He was really a big help,” Elway said. “It almost helps to have somebody else who hasn’t seen these greens because a lot of times when you’ve seen them so many different times you kind of read more into it.

“I was seeing more break, and he was seeing less break, and every time he was right.”

Consequently, Elway plans to stick with his green-reading “future son-in-law.”

“I think my caddie is going to get the boot again, and (Jeff’s) going on the bag again (Sunday),” Elway said. “He did a really good job.”

Elway, who is seeking his first ACC win, may even turn over future caddying gigs to Nickless.

“If he does a good job (Sunday), then he’s going to have the job the rest of his life,” Elway said.

Rhoden struggles, slips to 13th place

Celebrity leaders must have wondering when Rick Rhoden’s name was going to be added to the leader board on Saturday.

It never happened as Rhoden struggled through one of his poorest rounds in tournament history. The eight-time winner earned 14 points for a total of 35, leaving him in a tie for 13th place.

Rhoden got off to a slow start, scoring just one point through four holes, then three-putted from inside 15 feet to double bogey the par-3 fifth hole.

“He kind of got unraveled. He started with three pars, and he played three pretty good holes,” said Dan Quinn, who was in Rhoden’s threesome. “All of sudden you’re sitting there with no points or something like that through five hole. Looking at that leader board, it’s kind of bizarre.”

In his 19 previous tournament appearances, Rhoden has never finished lower than fourth place.