Long time participants enjoy Tahoe, want to help fire victims
By Paul Andrew
Tribune staff writer
STATELINE – There is no place like Lake Tahoe in July.
Many long-time American Century Championship regulars enjoy their annual return to Tahoe and how the 54-hole tournament that has grown so successfully through the years.
“There are more people watching today’s practice round than we had during the finals in the early days,” said Mark Rypien, who won the inaugural tournament in 1990. “It was just a bunch of guys seeing what they can do in the beginning.”
“It’s a great place to bring kids and families,” added Joe Theismann, who also participated in numerous tournaments in the early 90s. “My son started coming up here with me when he was 13, and now he is 28 and still caddying for me.”
“It’s great to spend time with guys that we don’t see during the year,” Theismann added. “We look forward to this every year.”
Asked how the tournament has changed, Rypien commented on the caliber of golf.
“The play has gotten so much better,” Rypien added, who won the first tournament with a score of seven over par. “It is fun to see how we do against these guys.”
“I don’t get tired of signing autographs for the kids,” Theismann said. “The crowd has always been very cooperative.”
But Theismann is a bit uneasy going into this year’s event.
“This is the first tournament that I have played in with L.T. (Lawrence Taylor),” he said in jest, referring to the gruesome hit that Taylor applied to his ankle on Monday Night Football. “I just don’t want him teeing off behind me.”
The ACC has helped two-time Pro Bowl receiver Roy Green fill a void in retirement.
“What I miss most about football is the comraderie; joking around with the guys in the locker room. That’s one of the reasons this tournament is so fun for me; I get to joke around with the guys who come out here every tear. Tahoe brings that feeling back for me. The tournament is like a big locker room, with a lake,” said Green, who is making is eighth appearance in the championship.
The players are anxious to give back to the community that has supported them so well all these years.
“My heart goes out to those who lost their homes,” Theismann said. “The community of Lake Tahoe is so special. My hat goes off to the firefighters and volunteers.”
“We will be doing something to help out,” Rypien added. “It will take time for people to bounce back and rebuild their lives.”
With many newcomers being added each year, players like Theismann and Rypien, who have experienced the event from the beginning, have grown to appreciate what Tahoe means to them and their families.