Celebrity golf storms into town
A flurry of regional media gathered at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course on Wednesday for introductions of the 1999 American Century Celebrity Golf Championship hosts, sponsors and players.
Many stayed the afternoon for a chance to play a few rounds, despite the blustery winter-like weather.
Organizers considered the cold storm a good omen for the main event, scheduled for Fourth of July Weekend.
Traditionally, when the weather on Media Day is bad, said Jon Killoran of KRNV-Reno, the weather during the tournament is good.
Killoran, who made the introductions, based his prediction on experience from all 10 years of the championship’s history.
Officials of American Century Investments are looking forward to their first event.
The company succeeds Isuzu, which dropped its title sponsorship after seven years, but remains as an associate sponsor.
“This kind of opportunity presents itself very, very rarely,” Michael Barr, vice president of brand management for American Century, said of the company’s interest in the championship.
It’s also an event many of the company’s customers, many of whom are retirees and avid golfers, are excited to participate in.
“I’m delighted we have several recently retired players,” Barr said referring to hockey’s Wayne Gretsky, football’s John Elway, and the possibility of the return of basketball’s Michael Jordan.
“I haven’t asked yet, but if they need any help with their retirement investments, I’d be happy to talk to them,” he joked.
The title company was founded in 1958 as Twentieth Century by James E. Stowers Jr., now its chairman. The name was changed to American Century Investments in 1997 and now has nearly 70 mutual funds, and $88 billion in assets.
“This is an opportunity to get our name out there,” Barr said.
Other sponsors include Taylor Made, Beck’s Bier, Hewlett Packard and TWA. Local sponsors include Caesars Tahoe and Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.
“There is no more commercial space,” said Kevin Monaghan of NBCSports. “We turned away a lot of businesses.
“That’s an indicator of the value of the event.”
It’s good news to community business and tourism leaders. After Isuzu dropped its name-sponsorship, it looked like the event would be nameless this year. The risk of losing the Celebrity Championship to another community was also real.
“We appreciate American Century,” said Mel Thomas, Caesars’ general manager. “Most importantly, thanks for keeping it at Lake Tahoe. It’s important to all of us.”
With the event secured for the lake, media, hosts and players at the Media Day set the tone for the main event, described Douglas County Commissioner and Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority board member Don Miner as “summer camp for celebrities.”
The fun is attracting interest among professional and celebrity golfers. Twenty-five new players will participate in the 1999 event, according to Monaghan.
“That’s a record for the tour,” he said.
On hand for Media were Olympic freestyle skiing gold medalist Jonny Moseley and 1992 Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien, who won the first tournament 10 years ago.
Mike Eruizone, 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team captain, and Marcus Allen, former All-Pro Running Back, stood by via remote.
Rypien summed up their participation by saying, “we’re fortunate to be able to do this for fun.”
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