Adam Jensen

Everybody loves an underdog.

Well, almost everybody.

With only nine men having won the celebrity golf tournament in its 20-year history, the American Century Championship isn’t exactly a breeding ground for Cinderella stories.

Former winners, with a few upstarts, dominate the top of the odds sheets, but there are few a intriguing options for betters looking for an investment that has a chance, if only a slight one, to pay off big.

Six previous winners appear in this year’s tournament, including eight-time victor and former Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Rick Rhoden (9 to 5) and four-time winner and former NHL center Dan Quinn (4 to 1).

Actor Jack Wagner (8 to 1) won in 2006, former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver (5 to 1) won the tournament in 1996 and 2005 and former Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Chris Chandler (6 to 1) finished first in 2007.

Former NHL goaltender Grant Fuhr (5 to 1) has six top ten finishes in 15 appearances, but has never bested third-place finishes in 2007 and 2008.

Jeremy Roenick (7 to 1) did not finish higher than 16th in 11 appearances prior to 2006, but has come on strong in the past two years, finishing ninth in 2008 and fifth in 2009.

The biggest underdog in this year’s tournament who has finished on top of the leader board is former Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien (12 to 1). Rypien won the tournament during it’s inaugural running in 1990.

With a third-place finish in the 2008 tournament and a second place finish in 2009, 2011 has the potential to be a breakthrough year for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (5 to 2).

But for the gambler looking for a bigger return on their risk, there are a few names that stand out further down the odds sheet.

Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer (12 to 1) presents one of the more interesting long shots in this year’s tournament. Although he’s never won, Dilfer has never placed lower than 20th in the 12 American Century Championships he has entered. He has finished in the top 10 seven times and his best finish was second in 2005.

Another former NFL quarterback with some golf chops is John Elway (15 to 1). The former Denver Bronco has played in every celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood and has raked in nine top-10 finishes. But Elway would need to play well beyond his previous efforts to take the tournament. His best finish came in 1998, when he finished fourth.

For the truly adventurous, there’s former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder (75 to 1).

Mulder, a newcomer to the tournament, has won six golf tournaments this year on the Golf Channel Amateur Tour and his point totals put him at the top of the tour, according to a June 29 article in the Arizona Republic.

But beware, Mulder readily admits to never having taken a golf lesson and being unable to beat professional golfing friends in the article.

From there, a gambler’s chances drop off into the untenable Charles Barkley (500 to 1) range, with 100-1, 200-1, and 300-1 odds becoming the name of the game.

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