Edgewood wins another round with celebrities
Just when it looked as if the celebrity golfers would bring Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course to its knees, along comes a 50-mph wind to reveal another flaw in their games.
As punishing as the gale-force winds were on Friday and Saturday, there were few players who knew how to adjust their games to the conditions. The punch or knock-down shot – the great equalizer to a relentless wind – wasn’t in the bag of many players, or if it was, they weren’t revealing it.
Consequently, only three sub-72 rounds were recorded in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship on Friday and Saturday: one each by Mark Rypien, Rick Rhoden and Pierre Larouche. They, along with one-time PGA Senior Tour player John Brodie, wisely chose not fly their balls up in the wind like a kite.
“The winds separated a lot of people,” said 1992 champion Dan Quinn, who tied Billy Joe Tolliver for second place, nine strokes behind winner Rick Rhoden. “It would have been competitive on Sunday, but the wind was a freak thing. It’s the first time it’s done that in the tournament’s 10 years.”
As the wind lay still in the practice rounds before the tournament, there was talk that Rhoden’s record 9-under-par 207 total would fall and possibly one or more of the three course records would tumble: Lee Trevino’s 64 from the blue tees or Rhoden’s celebrity record 66. The other mark from the gold tees is owned by former Edgewood golf pro Orrin Vincent, who fired a 66.
There was proof that it could happen as Mario Lemieux divulged at a press conference on Thursday that Elway must have been 12- or 13-under par during 54 holes of practice Tuesday and Wednesday.
Even so, Edgewood Tahoe Head Professional Paul Martin wasn’t concerned how the players were going to make the course look on national TV.
“I certainly wasn’t worried at all. I think it’s good for the tournament to have some low scores to show exactly what they can do,” Martin said.
Besides, two of the easier holes from previous tournaments – No. 8 and NO. 15 – were lengthened.
“They definitely had the course set up a little more difficult, too. They were playing the gold tee box up 15, which is a short par 4, and they were also playing a longer blue box on No. 8 in the right-hand position, which makes the hole set up a little more difficult for the driver,” Martin said.
Then throw in a hurricane wind, and the usual typical tricky greens, and the players were at the mercy of Edgewood like they haven’t been since the first two years of the tournament, when 5 over was the winning score.
“The wind is kind of like the other opponent battling against you, too, and it wears on you. And I think that’s why you saw a lot of players holding tight for like 15 or 16 holes, and then coming down the stretch the last couple of holes their scores would start to fade a little bit. That wasn’t physical fatigue; it was more mental fatigue,” Martin said.
Most of the field also failed to realize as Rhoden and Larouche did with their 2-over-par 74s on Saturday, that par was an incredible score on each hole.
“I’m thinking par on almost all of these holes,” said Rhoden, who took a one-shot lead over Larouche after Saturday’s play. “Your good shots were ending up as bad shots, and there was no telling where your bad shots were going to wind up.”
“When the wind blows that hard, you can’t let your guard down. It was all about surviving,” Larouche said.
Added Martin, “When you see those guys shoot 75 and 76 on Saturday, I don’t think people watching at home on TV realize what kind of score that is. Par (Saturday) probably was 76 or 77 in that wind.”
Are there any other sharp teeth the defenseless players haven’t seen from beautiful Edgewood?
“The rough can be thick out here. We keep it pretty well mowed down for these guys, so they can get out there and shoot some good scores,” Martin said. “If we let it grow a little bit with some wet conditions, that would really make it tough along with some firm greens.
“But we don’t want to punish these guys, because they’re out here to have fun.”
They didn’t have much fun on Friday and Saturday until they got away from the golf course.
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