Only one person knows if Jordan will play – him |

Only one person knows if Jordan will play – him

Column by Steve Yingling

Go ahead and retire, Michael Jordan. Celebrity golf needs you, especially the Isuzu Celebrity Golf Championship at Edgewood Tahoe.

Until Jordan actually retires for good, he probably won’t be making too many celebrity golf appearances during the NBA off-season.

However, several factors are working in the Lake Tahoe’s favor for Jordan’s return to the South Shore.

First, the NBA season, for a change, won’t end in the summer. In fact, it could end as early as Friday as Jordan’s Bulls appear to have psychologically drained the life out of the Jazz with a 42-point thrashing on Sunday.

Also, if Jordan reneges on his retirement plans, the threat of a NBA lockout by owners at training camp may give him the extended off-season he needs to justify a trip to Lake Tahoe to his family.

“I’d say the chance of Michael playing in Lake Tahoe are 50-50, but personally, I don’t think he will based on what I read in Golf Digest,” said NBC’s Kevin Monaghan, who helps the TV network choose the 80-player Tahoe field. “Other people at NBC think he will be there.

“He doesn’t get a chance to get his game up to speed. He thinks it’s unfair that people have unreasonable expectations of him.”

Jordan, who once dreamed of becoming a professional golfer following his NBA career, has appeared in only two of the past four championships in Tahoe.

“His Airness” won’t make a decision until after he wins his sixth NBA title.

* * *

If you’re looking for a longshot to pay off at the books, you may want to put invest in former Orioles/Mets/Red manager Davey Johnson.

Johnson finished just two strokes behind 1991 winner Rick Rhoden in his only appearance in Tahoe.

Considering Johnson has been unemployed since resigning following the Orioles’ six-game defeat to Cleveland in the American League Championships Series last fall, his golf game should be better than ever.

Caesars Tahoe will post odds on the tournament beginning June 16.

* * *

TV ratings don’t lie. So obviously the PGA Tour could use a few handsome players like celebrity golf’s Jack Wagner of Melrose Place, Denver quarterback John Elway, Dallas Stars’ Mike Modano and mogul skiing gold medalist Jonny Moseley to improve its ratings with women viewers.

“Last year, more women watched this tournament than any other on NBC and that includes the U.S. Open, Ryder Cup and PGA Tour regular events,” Monaghan said.

* * *

Speaking of Wagner, few players in the field can touch his sense of humor.

Some recent samplings:

— Asked what advice he has for the 21 rookies in the field, he jokingly replied, “Stay out of my way!”

— What it means to come back to Tahoe every summer, “I’m just trying to keep it under $30,000 at Caesars.”

— On what affect the renovations to Edgewood will have on defending champion Rick Rhoden. “It really doesn’t matter. I saw him shoot 71 blindfolded there once before.”

* * *

Don’t worry, the Isuzu Celebrity Golf Championship isn’t going anywhere. The 54-hole championship has become celebrity golf’s equivalent of the Masters. The Masters is always held at Augusta National and celebrity golf’s championship has called Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course home for the past nine years.

Celebrities don’t complain about Edgewood, they beg to come back.

“It would be very difficult to take the event away from Lake Tahoe because the players like it here so much,” Monaghan said.

* * *

Quote of the week belongs to four-time champion Rhoden during last Tuesday’s press conference.

“Four of the best swings we have out here belong to hockey players Brett Hull, Dan Quinn, Pierre Larouche and Mario Lemieux. Watch them, but don’t watch Mike Eurizone.”

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