Charles Barkley says bet on him at celebrity golf tourney

STATELINE, Nev. — NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley says his golf game has improved and is guaranteeing a top 70 finish in the 32nd annual American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament that takes place July 9-11 at Edgewood Tahoe Resort.

While former NFL quarterback turned analyst Tony Romo is favored to win his third ACC title and defending champ Mardy Fish is a close second, there is a unique bet for Barkley that pays big money if he finishes away from the bottom of the pack.

According to William Hill sportsbook, placing a $100 bet on Barkley to finish in the top 70 would pay out $1,500 if he succeeds.

When asked recently at a video press conference if he thinks he could finish that high in the standings, Barkley responded by grabbing a toy that when a button was pressed said, “guaranteed.”

“Listen, man, I’m going to finish in the top 70,” Barkley said. “You need to put more than $100 on me. You need to let me know what casino that is, because I want some of that. I cannot wait now. I look forward to Lake Tahoe.”

With a field of 85 players, Barkley is a longshot to finish in the top 70. But he’s being coached by a well-known short game instructor Stan Utley, who was listed as 20th in Golf Digest’s “America’s 50 Greatest Teachers.”

Barkley has actually finished in the top 70 six times in his 25 events played, including last year, but those finishes occurred when the field was maxed out at 75 at most in its early years. Last year there were 71 celebrities in a COVID-restricted tournament and the TNT basketball analyst finished 69th.

ACC first timer this year Justin Tuck, a two-time Super Bowl champion defensive end, said on Wednesday of last week that he plays with Barkley at the same golf club in Alabama and his swing has improved.

“I’m probably going to have three bets going, two on myself and one on him to not come in under 70,” Tuck said. “But I know his swing looks better. I look forward to seeing how he does. That will be fun.”

Barkley, who has his own “Charles Barkley Day” in South Lake Tahoe since 2008 after he donated $100,000 to the Angora Fire Fund and hosted a dinner for all the firefighters, and then donated another $90,000 the next year, has finished last six times and next to last on five other occasions.

Barkley has 7500-1 odds to win the event.

There are more than 85 players in this year’s field and Romo is the favorite with 3-2 odds. Romo won the tournament in 2018 and 2019 but was beaten last year by USTA Davis Cup Captain Mardy Fish, who has 2-1 odds to repeat. Fish set the Edgewood course record last year on his way to victory.

Romo suffered a wrist injury in last year’s event and was forced to withdraw.

Three-time winner and former MLB standout pitcher Mark Mulder is at 4-1 and Fox Sports MLB analyst, Hall of Famer and PGA Tour Champions exemption competitor John Smoltz is at 8-1.

LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam is also at 8-1. The part-time North Lake Tahoe resident played in the ACC in 2014 and went off as the 2-1 favorite, eventually finishing second. She has played in multiple tournaments in 2021, and the ACC will be her final competitive venture before teeing it up in late July at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

Tournament officials are touting 2021 as the strongest field ever with some of the brightest names in sports and entertainment including Justin Timberlake and Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes are both listed at 500-1.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 150-1 odds.

The tournament includes 16 Hall of Famers, 13 who have won Most Valuable Player Awards and 15 MLB pitchers who have won Cy Young Awards. A total of 18 golfers are active pro athletes, including 15 NFL players.

Tickets are only available to purchase online. Tickets purchased online should be picked up by 2 p.m. at the main entrance to Edgewood.

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