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Starry summer, Isuzu Celebrity Championship ready for ninth year at Edgewood

Michael Traum

The stars will be shining brighter than ever during the Isuzu Celebrity Golf Championship this summer in Lake Tahoe.

New, yet familiar faces will join the old standbys to test their golfing skills in the ninth annual event, scheduled for July 10-12 at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

“It’s become a special event and the best entertainment package in golf,” said NBC director of new business development Kevin Monaghan during a press conference Tuesday at Edgewood. “The hardest thing to do has been to select the field. We’ve had players send poems and songs, trying to get in the tournament. Our philosophy is to try and add 20 to 30 new players a year, with a focus on the active ones.”

Of the many new players, and one of at least two Olympic gold medalists, is speed skater Dan Jansen. Jansen, who captured gold in the 1994 Lillehammer Games, attended the press conference and said he was thankful to be included this year.

“Since I retired, I’ve been playing a bunch of golf. (Edgewood) is a fun golf course. If I can shoot close to 80, I’d be happy,” said Janzen, who will be joined by Nagano mogul gold winner Jonny Moseley. “I’ve always wanted to play in this tournament. I’ve talked with (celebrities) at charity tournaments and they’ve all said try to get in the Tahoe tournament, that it’s the best one out there.”

Three celebrity golf veterans joined in the press conference via phone call – defending and four-time champ Rick Rhoden, Brett Hull and Jack Wagner. Rhoden, who shot 70-67-70 last year to win by three shots and earn $100,000, had some advice for Jansen.

“If he thought he was nervous at the Olympics, just wait until he tees it up on No. 1,” Rhoden said.

Added Hull, “I don’t think a lot of people understand how nerve-racking it is (in Tahoe).”

Jansen, an 8-handicapper with a career-best round of 76, conceded that nerves do play a part in a tournament of this caliber.

“I’m much more nervous playing golf on television. And you can never perfect golf. You have to get over the fact that you might make a fool of yourself,” he said.

Another newcomer is Breeders’ Cup winning jockey Corey Nakatani, whom Monaghan joked would make a perfect first-day pairing with Bill Laimbeer. Joining Nakatani will be actor Samuel L. Jackson, football players Tim Brown and Marshall Faulk and ESPN’s Dan Patrick, among others.

The old standby list includes John Elway, Marcus Allen, Jerry Rice, Johnny Bench, Bryant Gumbel, Billy Joe Tolliver, Mario Lemieux and Dan Majerle.

One noticeably absent from the list is Michael Jordan. Monaghan said the basketball player and marquee name, who didn’t play last year, is worried about his ability to live up to performance expectations regarding his golf game. But, Monaghan said, Jordan remains on his list of players that he hopes will come, calling the chance 50-50.

“We’re covering the NBA finals, so we’re going to hound him after every game,” Monaghan said.

NBC plans five hours of live coverage on Saturday, July 11, and Sunday, July 12, while TNT will broadcast for three hours on Friday, July 10.

For ticket information, call 544-5050.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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