AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP | Carters bring sibling rivalry to Tahoe celebrity golf
STATELINE – Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course was bustling on Monday afternoon with course workers and volunteers putting together final preparations for the 21st American Century Championship.
Sunshine and warm weather also attracted several celebrities for practice rounds as they honed their games for the Friday through Sunday tournament. Among them were 1996 Cy Young Award winner John Smoltz and two-time World Series winner Joe Carter.
Carter and Smoltz are making their second appearances in the 54-hole Stableford tournament. Smoltz last played in the championship in 2000 when he was recovering from elbow surgery.
Carter, who is best known for hitting a walk-off homer off Phillies’ closer Mitch Williams to win the 1993 World Series for Toronto, made his rookie debut a year ago and is anxious for another crack at the event.
“I had a lot of fun,” said Carter, who tied for 43rd in a field of 90 players. “The thing is I kind of wore myself out, so this year I’m going to take it easy.
“Last year, I practiced two or three times a day, then played, and by Sunday I was dead. This year, not too much exertion, get my rest and drink plenty of water, and I’ll be ready for that Sunday finale.”
As Carter waited to tee off late Monday afternoon, a sibling rivalry spilled over onto the putting green. Carter and younger brother, Fred, continued their budding golfing fellowship over 15 or 16 putting holes before the first-tee starter broke up the fun.
“He’s my big golfing buddy, so we have a good time,” Carter said.
“This is an awesome experience,” said Fred Carter, who will caddie for his older brother. “He could have been a bad brother, but he’s a pretty good brother bringing me out here.
“We grew up close in the family, and it means a lot to me.”
As they made there way over to the first tee, somehow the conversation turned to who won the last match between the two.
“I won the last match,” Joe said. “He had me down three with four holes to go, then he popped off and said, ‘I only have to tie on one more hole,’ and I beat him the next four holes.”
Fred, a former minor league player with the Reno Silver Sox, quickly turned the conversation in his favor.
“Ask him what happened at my place in Oklahoma City?” Fred said.
“I can’t remember back that far,” Joe responded. “When you get past 50, you forget about those things.”
Carter promised that their golfing rivalry wouldn’t get out of hand on the golf course. The five-time all-star said golf has given him a competitive outlet since being out of baseball since 1998.
“I have had a great time playing golf, and this definitely has taken the place of baseball,” said Carter, who is a regular on an amateur golf tour near his home in Kansas City. “It’s about the only thing I do that is really competitive.”
Smoltz, who finished seventh in the 2000 tournament, squeezed in an 18-hole round late in the afternoon as well. The former Atlanta Braves’ and Boston Red Sox pitcher showed a nice touch around the greens and the overall game to make him a possible title contender.
Smoltz made tournament history a decade ago when he became the only active Major League Baseball player to participate in the event. Smoltz underwent ligament replacement surgery to his right elbow four months prior to the tournament, and Braves’ club officials allowed him to compete in the golf event while he was recuperating.
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