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Celebrity golf: Stars never get used to the first tee

By Jeremy Evans

Tribune staff writer

STATELINE – Former NFL quarterback Steve Beuerlein remembers his first shot at the celebrity golf championship. It happened in 1992, and it wasn’t pretty.

“I was going off No. 10 and I topped it right in the creek, ” said Beuerlein, a 6-handicap golfer. “The first shot is always the hardest shot. If you hit a good first shot, you can just breathe. But if you hit a bad first shot, the tension just builds.

“On the first hole, they get done announcing you and everybody is cheering for you, everybody is watching, and you haven’t even hit a ball yet that day. The first shot is key.”

Whether it’s a pro quarterback or a Hollywood actor, the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course tests both rookies and seasoned veterans alike.

Large galleries and a nationally televised audience allow fans and spectators a rare chance to watch famous people hack it around. Even for the best of celebrity golfers, the ACC experience is tough to simulate.

“Playing golf on television is not an easy thing,” said actor Jack Wagner, who has 12 top-10 finishes at Edgewood. “I think the majority of celebrities that are really not great golfers, they’ll attest to the fact that teeing up on the first tee is nothing like the pressure in their careers. And that’s what makes it so fun, testing your nerve.”

Early in the week, when players are logging practice rounds, galleries are small. But they build slowly throughout the week, and when today’s first round begins, athletes and entertainers should immediately notice the difference.

“The first couple times are pretty tough,” said former NHL goalie Grant Fuhr, who will be playing in his 11th ACC. “I don’t think you ever get comfortable, but it does get a little easier.”

Today’s first round will be televised on The Golf Channel, while the next rounds are televised on NBC.

Rodger Carr, the father of Houston Texans quarterback David Carr, who is making his second ACC appearance, doesn’t think hoopla affects his son. Although David Carr finished 60th in 2004, he feels the greens were culpable, not the crowds or the television cameras.

“He doesn’t get nervous,” said Rodger Carr, whose son was sacked an NFL record 76 times in 2002. “These athletes have been through pressure situations before. He’s always got that calmness about him. I think he does all right.”


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