Anderson’s place in tournament history is ‘second’ to none |

Anderson’s place in tournament history is ‘second’ to none

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

In celebrity golf championship history, former Miami Dolphins defensive back Dick Anderson is known more for his second-place finishes than for his 1994 victory.

The 56-year-old Anderson has finished second four times in the Celebrity Players Tour’s signature event, with his last runner-up finish coming in 2000.

However, just because Anderson is a year older and one of the oldest players in the 78-player field, doesn’t mean that he can’t win again.

“He has a good chance to win here,” said five-time champion Rick Rhoden. “This course suits him better now because he used to cut the ball all the time; now, he hits more of a draw. I expect him to play well here. He always plays well here.”

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The 1973 NFL Defensive Player of the Year tied for eighth last year, 11 strokes behind winner Dan Quinn. That disappointing finish won’t happen again if Anderson’s pretournament play carries over into the 54-hole championship that starts Friday.

“I think I’m playing as well as I ever have,” he said. “You have to eliminate mistakes and keep it in play. I’m swinging good; it’s just a matter of focus.”

Part-time golfing, not aging, has probably cost Anderson several celebrity wins and denied him higher finishes this season.

“When I’m at home (Coral Gables, Fla.), I’m a Sunday player,” Anderson said. “I hit balls a couple of times a week, but I don’t play every day, so when I come to a tournament I can play four or five days in a row and have my game in decent shape. But I’m not a full-time golfer by any means.”

Looking back on his 1994 championship, Anderson will be remembered for outdueling celebrity golf’s master — Rhoden. Anderson birdied the 18th hole twice, the final one coming on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff — to seize the title from Rhoden and Steve Bartkowski.

“It was a great deal of fun and very competitive,” said Anderson, who was the No. 2 player behind Hale Irwin on their Boulder, Colo., high school golf team.

At times, Anderson can act like the golf course is the last place in the world he’d prefer to be, but that stems from his steely competitive nature.

“Dick is the kind of guy you’d like to have on a two-man team,” Rhoden said. “When Dick plays, he has tunnel vision. I played with him one time and I shot 66 and he didn’t say a word to me until the end of the round when he said, ‘Nice playing.’ “

The former Florida state senator remains a fan of the Dolphins 30 years after helping Miami compile an unforgettable perfect 17-0 season in 1972-73. Anderson believes the key to the Dolphins’ 2002 season is not newly acquired running back Ricky Williams, but their offensive line.

“Last year, they ended with a lot of injuries on the line. If the offensive line can gel, and with (assistant coach) Norv Turner there, that should help,” Anderson said.

“They have a good strong defense, so all those sorts of things are positive.”

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