Number of stars to take shot at Rhoden’s title |

Number of stars to take shot at Rhoden’s title

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

STATELINE – When two stars have combined to win 11 of the 19 American Century Championships, it’s difficult for the other celebrities to get excited about their prospects of winning the 54-hole tournament.

Last year, Rick Rhoden won for first time in five championships – one of which (2006) he wasn’t able to participate in because of his status on the Champions Tour.

The modified Stableford scoring format has somewhat stifled Rhoden and Quinn’s tournament dominance. Since the switch from stroke play to Stableford in 2003, there have been five different winners, including a three-year run where Rhoden and Quinn were denied championships.

Billy Joe Tolliver, a former NFL quarterback, is the only other celebrity to have won the championship at least twice. Tolliver said work has kept him from playing as much golf as he’d like, so he’s uncertain if he’ll be in contention.

Tournaments odd provided by Harrah’s/Harveys Lake Tahoe list Rhoden as a 9-5 favorite, while Quinn and Tolliver are at 5-1.

“Rick’s probably dead on and mine are probably a little generous,” Tolliver said. “I probably need to be more like 25 to 1, or right around there with (Charles) Barkley somewhere.”

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Rhoden said to look out for onetime 49ers’ quarterback Trent Dilfer and current Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo.

“Trent Dilfer should be playing better now he’s not playing football,” Rhoden said. “Romo, I played with him last year. He’s got a lot of game. I think he needs to play in this kind of format more, which is the case for quite a few guys.”

Romo and Quinn tied for second, a point behind Rhoden in last year’s tournament. Based on his performance in Wayne Gretzky’s Nationwide Tour event last weekend in Ontario, retired hockey player Brett Hull should be in contention. Hull’s odds of winning have dropped from 15-1 to 8-1; he finished fifth a year ago.

Other celebrities who could contend are Grant Fuhr, Jack Wagner, Chris Chandler and Mark Rypien. The latter three have each won a championship.