Tolliver leads Quinn in Tahoe celebrity golf |

Tolliver leads Quinn in Tahoe celebrity golf

Scott Sonner, Associated Press

STATELINE, Nev. (AP) – Former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver birdied the last three holes to take a narrow lead over former hockey player Dan Quinn on Saturday in the second round of the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe.

Tolliver nearly chipped in from a bunker for an eagle on the par-5 16th, hit within 7 feet on the par-3 17th, then drove the ball 330 yards on the 501-yard, par-5 18th before hitting his second shot within 25 feet and two-putting for a 1-under 71.

He has 51 points in the modified Stableford scoring system that puts a premium on eagles and birdies, followed by Quinn with 49, actor Jack Wagner with 47 and former NHL star Mario Lemieux with 44 heading into Sunday’s final round.

“I hung in there and did all right down the stretch but messed up quite a few pretty easy shots,” said Tolliver, a two-time winner and defending champion in the $500,000 tournament at the 6,972-yard Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

“I’m just going to try to not get drunk tonight. It wore me out last night,” he said about an outdoor concert he attended Friday night by John Mellencamp. “I may go home and watch Country Music Television.”

Quinn, Wagner and Lemieux all shot 70 _ the best rounds of the day. But Quinn came an inch short of dropping a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 16 and missed a 10-footer for eagle on the 18th, and Wagner had a bogey on No. 17 when he missed a 6-footer for par after grazing the hole on a 40-foot birdie attempt.

“I think Billy Joe proved today that the last three holes are what makes this tournament so special because he finished birdie, birdie, birdie,” Wagner said. “It was a very good round for me to hang in there with these guys.”

Quinn, who has won the tournament four times, said he didn’t play well.

“But I somehow scraped together a 2-under round,” he said. “It will be wide open (Sunday). With this format, it will come down to the last six or eight holes out there.”

Lemieux predicted the final three holes would determine the winner.

“It looks like it is going to take a lot of birdies again,” he said. “I didn’t expect to be in this position. This is always a great tournament for us, great competition and the setting is awesome.”

Many of the past and present sports stars and entertainers in the field gamble and party in the Tahoe casinos into the wee hours during the weekend. But Wagner said he may have an advantage because 15-year-old son Peter is caddying for him this week.

“It’s movie night. It will probably save me a couple thousand dollars not going to the casinos,” Wagner said.

The scoring system awards six points for eagle, three points for birdie, one point for par, none for bogey and minus two for double bogey or worse.

Many of the contestants have their sights set lower than the $100,000 winner’s check. Kevin Nealon’s backers wore T-shirts that read “Team Nealon” on the front and “Shooting for the middle of the pack” on the back.

The biggest gallery on the course, more than 200 people, followed Chris Weber and Charles Barkley, who are wagering $50,000 for charity for the second year in a row on who will do worse.

The crowd roared when Barkley sank a 45-foot putt for a rare par on the par-3, 17th, where two dozen boats anchored along the hole were turned with bows facing away from the shore after actor Matthew Settle sliced a shot into one on Friday and broke its windshield.

On No. 18, Webber chided the crowd when his second shot wide right ended up in a sandy waste area.

“I was hoping you guys were going to kick it back in the fairway,” Webber said.

His third shot smacked into the back of Jeff Ortega of Rocklin, Calif., who was standing off to the right less than 10 yards away with his son, Tony.

“I almost killed you!” Webber shouted as he rushed over to apologize.

Ortega said he probably would have preferred to have been hit by Barkley “because Webber hits it a little harder than Barkley.”

“But hey, I got a handshake,” Ortega said.

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