Rhoden ruled ineligible for ACC
One celebrity is glaringly missing from the entry list for the July 14-16 American Century Championship – six-time champion Rick Rhoden.
NBC, which televises the 54-hole tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, has ruled Rhoden ineligible because of his newfound status on the Champions Tour.
The former major league pitcher earned a conditional card for the Champions Tour by tying for 10th at the Q-School last November in Calimesa, Calif.
“The reason is the so-called Brodie rule,” said Steve Griffith of Griffith Associates who helps promote the event for NBC along with Weidinger Public Relations. “John wasn’t eligible while he was playing on the PGA Senior Tour.”
John Brodie, the former 49ers’ quarterback, waited until 1996 to be invited to the celebrity championship after winning the 1991 Security Pacific Senior Classic with a sudden-death playoff victory over Chi Chi Rodriguez. He joined the Senior Tour in 1985 and competed against the 50-and-over set off and on through 1998, earning $735,758.
Rhoden was very understanding of the rule, although he would like an opportunity to play since it’s an off-week on the Champions Tour.
“That’s the rule, then that’s the rule,” Rhoden said. “I knew when I got my card that it might cause a problem. You can’t have a rule for one guy one way and another way for another guy.”
Rhoden, who will celebrate his 53rd birthday on May 16, had unsuccessfully attempted to qualify for the Champions Tour for three years. But with a 2006 conditional card the former Dodgers’ pitcher has only participated in three events this spring – the same number of tour events Brodie played in during 1996 when he made his celebrity championship debut.
“That’s a problem I have with the Champions Tour, not the Tahoe people,” Rhoden said. “They have been good to me.”
Due to a shrinking Champions Tour in 2006, there have been fewer chances for Rhoden to use his conditional card. Rhoden actually played more often on the Champions Tour in past seasons because of sponsor exemptions and weekly qualifying. Last year, he competed in seven events.
“I might play less than I did last year,” Rhoden said, “but I think I’ll get in 10 somehow.”
Last week, Rhoden tied for 22nd place in the Regions Charity Classic, earning $16,091. For the season, he is 85th on the tour’s money list with $23,764.
Rhoden has won a record $812,289 in the ACC since being invited for the first time in 1991. He won the tournament in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2003 and was third last year.
“It’s going to impact Rick. It’s going to cost him about $75,000 to not be invited to the tournament,” Griffith said.
ACC tournament officials said Rhoden would be permitted to return to the ACC should he fail to qualify for the Champions Tour next season.
Unless he wins one of the remaining Champions Tour events, Rhoden said he will return to an all-new Q-School in the fall. Instead of issuing full and conditional cards for the 2007 season, the tour will take the top 35 players at Q-School and let them compete each Monday in a qualifying round for nine spots into the tournament for that week.
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