Tahoe’s time to shine again
Lake Tahoe’s biggest sporting event of the year – the 12th American Century Celebrity Golf Championship – has finally arrived.
The majority of the 76-player field will begin arriving in town today and Tuesday for the 54-hole championship, which begins Friday morning.
Official practice rounds begin at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Following a second day of practice on Wednesday, players will tune up for the $500,000 championship with a celebrity-amateur tournament at 7 a.m. Thursday. The official tournament begins at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Among those expected to play are John Elway, Dan Marino, Johnny Bench, Mario Lemieux, Charles Barkley, defending champion Al Del Greco and five-time winner Rick Rhoden.
Del Greco, a free-agent kicker, shot a single-round championship record of 7-under-par 65 in the final round to win last year. Dick Anderson, a retired NFL defensive back, finished three shots behind Del Greco, whose 210 total is the second-best three-round total behind Rhoden’s winning score of 207 in 1993 and 1997.
Rhoden, already a two-time winner on this year’s Celebrity Players Tour, is the odds-on favorite at 6-5. He has taken the championship in all of its odd-numbered years 1991, ’93, ’95, ’97 and ’99 and was won more than a $500,000 in this event.
Lemieux, the recently unretired Pittsburgh Penguin winger, is the most high-profile celebrity to have won the tournament. His back-to-back rounds of 67 and 69 brought him out of nowhere to claim the championship in 1998.
Also entered are 2001 Super Bowl signal callers Trent Dilfer and Kerry Collins, St. Louis Rams’ All-Pro running back Marshall Faulk, retired running back Marcus Allen, Oakland Raiders’ All-Pro receiver Tim Brown, Dallas Cowboys’ All-Pro running back Emmitt Smith, as well as Pittsburgh Steelers’ top two QBs Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox.
Stepping to the tee to represent the baseball world are Hall of Famers Bench, George Brett and Carlton Fisk, Rollie Fingers and Mike Schmidt.
Schmidt, who shared the first-round lead in Elway’s tournament on Saturday, ranks seventh all-time in homers with 548.
Joining Barkley, now an NBA analyst, from the hardwood are recently traded
all-star guard Jason Kidd, Hall of Famer George Gervin, Vinny Del Negro of the Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat’s Dan Majerle and 1991 runner-up Bill Laimbeer.
Besides Lemieux, hockey will pucker up with Brett Hull of the Dallas Stars, Hull’s teammate Mike Modano, five-time Stanley Cup winning goalie Grant Fuhr and former Penguin and 1992 champion Dan Quinn.
Actors and entertainers also have roles in the 12th edition of the American Century Championship. Among them are Jack Wagner and Grant Show, the two former “Melrose Place” stars; Bruce McGill, who played Walter Hagen in “Bagger Vance;” John O’Hurley of “Seinfeld” fame; movie star Judd Nelson of “Breakfast Club;” and former “Saturday Night Live” funnyman Kevin Nealon.
NBC will also televise two special attractions a day after they happen as a part of its five-hour tournament coverage. Tournament-goers can watch one lucky fan try to sink a putt on the 18th green worth up to $10 million in the Beck’s Putt and Win competition Saturday at 3:30 p.m. On Friday at 3:30 p.m., new Philadelphia Flyer Jeremy Roenick will defend his title in the Taylor Made Long Drive Contest on the No. 1 tee. Roenick, who on Friday announced plans to play with the Philadelphia Flyers, won last year’s long drive contest with pokes of 364 and 357 yards.
Ticket prices are $10 for practice rounds and $15 for the Celebrity-Am on Thursday and for each round of the championship. Tickets will also be sold at the gate.
NBC Sports will televise live the second round on Saturday (1-3 p.m.) and the final round on Sunday (Noon-3 p.m.). ESPN will televise first-round action tape delayed on Friday from 4-6 p.m.
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