Record crowds expected at American Century Championship
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The American Century Championship is set to get underway today, bringing a record 93 celebrities to the shores of Lake Tahoe.
Today’s opening round on the 6,709-yard Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course is sold out and will also include the annual Celebrity Hole-In-One Contest. This year’s competition will bring together 10 players and one Korbel California Champagne distributor representative with two chances each to record a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th hole from 155 yards out. A hole-in-one will earn $250,000 to the player and a local charity. If an ace is not achieved, the player closest to the pin (within two feet) will receive $25,000 to split with the local charity. If not within two feet, $5,000 will awarded to charity.
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, a three-time winner, is the favorite to defend his title. Romo is at 5-to-2, according to Caesars Sportsbook, followed by former tennis player Mardy Fish (11-to-4) and former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder (5-to-1).
“Obviously it’s very enjoyable and rewarding to go out and win at anything you do,” said Romo during Wednesday’s press conference. “But I do think it gets tougher every time because the depth of the field is now — it’s much deeper than it’s ever been. For so long it used to be three, four people you felt like. We got easily 12, I feel like, could be 20. Every year someone’s improved. It’s a golf course that gives you opportunities. Someone gets hot, they’ll be in the mix.”
Romo won the event last year with a high score of 62 using the Modified Stableford scoring format, in which points are scored based on the number of strokes taken at each hole.
“I think last year stands out quite a bit just because … I was fortunate enough to win,” added Romo. “But I got three boys who are 11, nine and five, and just their faces as you’re coming down the stretch and watching them, and then their excitement, and then not being able to watch and I’m watching them not being able to watch before I make a putt or have to make a putt and the emotion of it, them coming out, that’s like second to none. It’s always hard to beat the first win, it feels like, but I think that one did.”
LPGA great and Tahoe local, Annika Sorenstam, fresh off an appearance in the U.S. Women’s Open, is at 7-to-1, and will be seeking to become the first woman to win at the tournament.
“I keep coming back because I haven’t given up hope yet,” said Sorenstam.” I’ll try to give the guys a run for their money. It’s a treat to be welcomed back every year. As you know, Tahoe is a special place for our family, and this tournament is just the highlight of the summer … for me it’s a party week, and we get together and we have a good time. It’s wonderful what ACC does, and I really appreciate it.”
Tournament officials expect another record-setting crowd at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course this weekend. Last year’s attendance topped 67,000, which is the sixth straight year the attendance record was broken (not including the COVID-affected years of 2019 and 2020).
The tickets are sold out for today’s opening round and for Saturday’s round. Tickets are still available for Sunday’s finale.
For those looking to wager on the tournament, the annual bet on whether NBA legend Charles Barkley can finish in the top 70 is among the most popular bets that will be cast this weekend, according to Anthony Salleroli, Lead Golf Trader at Caesars Sportsbook. The former NBA MVP finished 74th last year and 76th the year before. He last posted a top-20 finish in 2002. He is +310 to finish in the top 70 and -400 to finish outside of it.
“Yeah, I think I will (break the top 70),” said Barkley. “I feel good about my game. It’s going to be fun. I’m going to play well. I’m really excited about where my game is at and it’s going to be fun.”
Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, however, doesn’t like Barkley’s chances.
“No chance. I’m just spiteful because they beat me, him and Phil (Mickelson) beat me in the Match a long time ago and I haven’t been able to get my revenge, so I’m a hater,” said Curry, referring to the 2020 made-for-TV golf competition. “I don’t think he’s going to get it.”
Today’s opening round will be followed by the Korbel Hole-In-One Contest. For live results are to purchase tickets to Sunday’s final round, visit americancenturychampionship.com.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of the Tribune.
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