It’s entertaining but not triumphant
Come on entertainers and basketball players, this is getting a little redundant and quite embarrassing.
We know some of you can act and sing and others can toss a ball through an iron ring, but when are you going to show an NBC audience that you can play some stick?
How long are you going to let field goal kickers, quarterbacks, pitchers and puck handlers kick your butts?
Moreover, when are you going to stop resting your chances on former soap opera star Jack Wagner’s puny shoulders?
Interject a little more in your scripts and touring spots so you can spend additional time working on your games. Haven’t you learned that from Wagner? After all, his his former character on Melrose Place, Dr. Peter Burns, found his way to the golf course from time to time.
Over the past 11 years there have been seven different champions, with former major league pitcher Rick Rhoden being the lone multiple winner with his five titles. To date, basketball players and entertainers have been shut out when the trophy and $100,000 first prize is presented on Sunday.
So is there really anyone who can end this dubious streak?
Wagner isn’t being given much of a shot of winning again this year. He opened as 20-1 and 18-1 bets to win at Harveys and Caesars Tahoe, respectively.
Going on past performances and the fact that Wagner has won on the celebrity tour before, he is the Gladiator the entertainment world will throw into the sand pits and water hazards to tangle with Rick Rhoden, Dan Quinn, Pierre Larouche, Al Del Greco, Dick Anderson, Mike Schmidt and Shane Rawley.
Based on his track record, Wagner has more than a decent chance. The actor has been one of the most consistent performers in the event, regularly fighting his way into the top 10.
Wagner was the only player to break 70 in last year’s first round, but weekend scores of 76 and 77 left him in a four-way tie for seventh.
But his best chance to get the entertainment world off the snide came in the championship’s first year when he missed a playoff by two strokes. Former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien won it that year and Wagner settled for third place despite entering the final round one shot out of the lead.
That year also marked basketball’s best representation in the championship as Jack Marin tied for sixth, Michael Jordan placed ninth and Danny Ainge came in 10th. But that was before the tour got a load of Rhoden, Rawley, Del Greco, Larouche, Lemieux and Quinn.
Outside of Wagner, entertainment’s other hopes are Rudy Gatlin and Tom Dreesen.
Tom Dreesen is a steady stick but has yet to make a serious run at the title, unless you count the time in 1996 he fired an opening-round 73 but still trailed Quinn by six strokes. A final-round 81 left him in 37th place.
Grammy-winning country singer Gatlin is one of the few celebrities to have aced a hole during championship play. And he holds the distinction of being the only entertainer besides Wagner to crack the top 10. His opening-round 69 lifted him to a tie for eighth in 1997.
By the way, a few new entertainers, including Judd Nelson, are entered this year. But Nelson wasn’t the jock in “Breakfast Club” and he played more like the thug he portrayed in his hit movie during his celebrity debut Saturday in John Elway’s tournament in Denver. He shot a 77 – for the front nine – on his way to an exhausting 67-over-par 139. He did improve to shoot 105 on Sunday, but unless he gets the “jock” Emilio Estevez to play in his place this week, he’ll be a threat to take over Chris Webber’s title as the biggest hacker in tournament history .
Of course, former NBA All-Star Charles Barkley isn’t much better. In fact, Barkley hasn’t given up dunking in retirement. But the balls that he dunks nowadays are smaller and they wind up in the water.
“Sir Charles” hit six balls in the water en route to an 11-over-par 15 on the 11th hole during last year’s final round.
But Barkley deserves some props. His scores are down this year and by no means will he finish at the bottom of the 76-player field.
While Wagner and Gatlin are legitimate contenders from entertainment, basketball really doesn’t have anyone to end their frustration.
Bill Laimbeer has come the closest, losing a sudden-death playoff to Rhoden in 1991 that has sent them in different directions on the celebrity tour. But at least Laimbeer has a lake named after him at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
With Rex Chapman, Dan Majerle, P.J. Carlesimo, Vinny Del Negro, George Gervin, Jason Kidd and Digger Phelps joining Laimbeer in the field, at least there are some attractive autographs to track down.
As for winning the championship, leave that to the football, baseball and hockey players.
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