Number of women competing in celebrity golf tournament doubles |

Number of women competing in celebrity golf tournament doubles

Kira Kazantsev hits a chip shot.
Rob Galloway / Tahoe Daily Tribune

STATELINE, Nev. — Lisa Cornwell and Kathryn Tappen last year both said they hoped to see more women in the field in the future at the American Century Championship.

Cornwell, an anchor on Golf Channel’s signature news show, “Golf Central,” and Tappen, the host of NHL on NBC and serves as co-host of “NHL Live” and “NHL Overtime,” were the only women participating in 2018.

This year the field of women has doubled — from two to four.

Tappen and Cornwell are being joined by excited first-timers Dylan Dreyer, weather anchor on NBC’s “Weekend Today,” and Kira Kazantsev, the 2015 Miss America and Golf Channel host.

Kathryn Tappen putts Wednesday on the ninth hole during a practice round for the American Century Championship.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune

“I think it’s great that our field of women has increased,” Tappen said. “I’m super proud to be a part of it. I love coming to this event every year. Just being here and being a part of this is a huge honor, and I can’t wait to play with these wonderful women on Thursday, Friday.”

Kazantsev, who was born and raised in the Bay Area, is a tireless advocate on women’s issues and is proud to represent women this year at the ACC. She also loves golf and carries a 16 handicap.

“I’m just excited to be here and have a good time,” Kazantsev said. “And I’m so thankful to the NBC Sports family, ACC and Harrah’s and Harveys and everybody for having faith in me and bringing me on as one of four women in the tournament. And I’m very proud to be there and to represent them and the ladies of the game.”

Earlier this year in February Kazantsev made the cut to play on the weekend at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. She said the experience was life changing.

“It was a whirlwind experience,” Kazantsev said. “Extremely educational both for my golf game and just for myself as a golf media professional.”

Kazantsev played practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday at Edgewood Tahoe in a pro-am and said the course is tough and the greens are slippery.

Kazantsev grew up watching the celebrity tournament and is a frequent visitor to Tahoe.

“My parents have had a home in Lake Tahoe for years,” Kazantsev said. “So I’ve grown up coming to Tahoe every summer and every winter and consider myself a bit of a local. And when you know so much about Tahoe, you know about the Tahoe tournament, the ACC, the stuff of legends, stuff of myths. Only the coolest people get to be here. And then all of a sudden I’m here, and it’s, like, oh, my God. I’m really excited.”

Dreyer tweeted Tuesday how excited she is to be a part of the ACC field and reiterated that fact Wednesday during a press conference in lead up to the tournament.

She played a practice round Wednesday with Cornwell and said shot her best score ever, 86, in her first visit to Lake Tahoe.

“Everything about this is kind of just overwhelming for me because it’s my first time in Tahoe, taking in the scenery and the views and getting to play an amazing round of golf today,” Dreyer said. “And girls love having those role models. I mean, younger girls. And just young kids in general are getting into golf, I think, a lot earlier now. I grew up in a family where my dad didn’t play, my brothers didn’t play, so I didn’t really know who to look up to. I think this tournament is the perfect example of a place you can look up to and watch women playing. I’m so excited to be one of those women that hopefully those kids look up to and see on the course. There’s these little girls watching and coming up to you to ask for your autograph. I don’t even know if they knew who I was, but they wanted my autograph because there is something to be said about being one of so few women in a largely male tournament.”

Dylan Dreyer sinks a putt Thursday.
Rob Galloway / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Dreyer said she grew up watching the ACC and receiving the invitation email was like a “pinch me” moment due to the grand scale of the tournament.

She said she asked Tappen and Cornwell for advice on what she could expect.

“Lots of sunscreen,” Tappen said.

“I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned, is take in the scenery, think of who you’re getting the opportunity to play with and think of the fact that you’re even invited to be a part of this,” Dreyer said. “There are 93 players and we’re one of four girls in the entire tournament. There’s so much to be proud of and there’s so much to be grateful for.”

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