More power to the ACC |

More power to the ACC

The drawing power of the world’s largest celebrity golf event continues to amaze.

Besides the ESPYs, what other sporting event was keeping Lance Armstrong from watching his team compete in person at the Tour de France?

Why did Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger make such a quick recovery from a serious motorcycle accident and then be willing to have media representatives from Reno to Bristol, Conn., probe into the condition of his face?

It’s the power of the American Century Championship, for sure.

Besides a few autograph seekers who gave up their vacation time to collect Michael Jordan autographs, did anyone really notice that MJ was missing from the 17th championship?

Jordan reportedly spent the week leading up to the championship watching his oldest boys compete in a summer basketball tournament in Kentucky. That event finished on the eve of the celebrity-amateur, which gave him just enough time to jet in at the last minute. But Jordan didn’t show because of “personal matters.”

Having a seven-time Tour de France champion and a quarterback who just engineered a Super Bowl title and survived a motorcycle crash without a helmet in attendance certainly made Jordan expendable.

Armstrong’s rousing round of golf and press conference on Thursday and Roethlisberger’s “first” public appearance since his June 12 crash generated more attention than ever in the 54-hole championship.

“I’m thankful to be alive and out here in a beautiful place; it’s an awesome golf course and great tournament,” Roethlisberger said.

The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority should hire Roethlisberger. If Roethlisberger can’t miss his annual trip for the Lake Tahoe tournament after nearly dying, then this place must be something special.

Throw in possibly the most exciting finish in the ACC’s history and the Jack Wagner becoming the first entertainer to win the championship and 2006 will go down as the best-ever event.

Wagner knew it was going to be his year several days before the tournament when he talked about the calming influence his caddie-son Peter was providing and his added preparation time before the tournament.

Of course, I should have listened to Wagner when he told me after an interview to go ahead and bet $100 on him to win for the first time. A bold statement for someone who had finished a disappointing 27th place performance the year before, but he knew it was his time. Surely he realized that journalists don’t have that much money to throw away.

I’d also be remiss not to mention the entertaining performances of fan favorite Charles Barkley. There isn’t a better show from here to Las Vegas when Barkley tees it up. If you can stomach his goofy swing and occasional loss of temper, Barkley’s hilarious commentary gives the tournament unrivaled drawing power.

Barkley probably could attract several thousand fans a day all by himself. As much as I like watching the top players, a year doesn’t go by that I don’t spend at least five or six holes following Barkley.

Can the championship possibly get any better?

Yes it can.

The soap actor’s victory may trigger an avalanche of Hollywood stars trying to become the next Wagner. Adam Sandler and Sylvester Stallone would be great additions, as would 49er great Joe Montana, who already holds a one-day tournament at Edgewood Tahoe in October.

If any tournament can bring them out, this is the one.

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or

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