Jordan, Elway swing in super-star foursome |

Jordan, Elway swing in super-star foursome

Darin Olde, Tribune staff writer
Jim Thrift/Tahoe TribuneStogie-smoking Michael Jordan chips out of the bunker on No. 17 during his first of two 18-hole practice rounds for the American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament on Tuesday at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

In suave white pants and a lime margarita-colored shirt, Michael Jordan swung his way through Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course on Tuesday.

Jordan played back-to-back rounds, stopping only to sign autographs between rounds in a sea of fans wearing memorabilia from the Chicago Bulls, the Washington Wizards — even the Denver Broncos.

With a crowd of 2,078, the total attendance on the first day of the event was three times what it has been in previous years, event organizers said. Jordan’s considerably long first day, 36-hole appearance likely contributed to the higher turnout.

The basketball great has scheduled another 36 holes today.

Joining Jordan was former Broncos quarterback John Elway, returning celebrity golf champion Dan Quinn and 19-year NBC commentator Ahmad Rashad.

The mega-star foursome finished just after 2 p.m. They attracted few spectators in the initial few holes, but fans lined the bleachers and the green on the 18th.

After the front nine, Elway led with a 1-under-par score of 35. Quinn trailed by one stroke and Rashad was in third with 39.

Jordan, who has been recovering from a knee injury that ended his season for the Wizards, trailed at 5-over with a 41.

Followed by a round of applause and shouts from the gallery, Rashad and Jordan wowed the crowd with birdies on the 18th hole.

The final practice round scorecard wasn’t available to the media, but Rashad, who joined Jordan, Roy Green, Vince Coleman and Ray Allen for a second round, said he led the foursome with a final score of 77.

Jordan didn’t appear hampered by his knee. The foursome walked the first round and let their caddies Dustin Fox and Todd Echan, both recent graduates from George Whittell High School, drive the carts.

When asked how his knee felt, Jordan responded before acknowledging who asked the question.

“(It feels) good. I haven’t played on it for a while. Oh,” he paused, seeing the small media badge and pad of paper. “You’re with the media. I can’t talk to you. You slipped one in on me.”

Jordan has been pressured by the media to decide whether his most recent knee injury will push him into retirement permanently. He has had surgery on his knee before, but this time, insiders say, he has opted not to have surgery.

Reflecting on the opening round of 18 holes, Rashad said Jordan played a strong first round.

He feels Quinn and Rick Rhoden will be the players to watch.

But don’t count the Greenwich, Conn., golfer out yet.

After 11 years in the NFL and a career leader in yards and receptions with the Minnesota Vikings, Rashad has been getting better at golf since he first took up the sport four years ago.

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