Tolliver, Rhoden among early arrivals |

Tolliver, Rhoden among early arrivals

Billy Joe Tolliver, 1996 American Centruy Championship winner, putts on Hole 9 at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in 2005. (Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune)

By Paul Andrew

Tribune staff writer

STATELINE — A threesome of celebrity golfers got an early start on preparation for the 18th American Century Championship on Monday at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

Billy Joe Tolliver, Neil Lomax and Grant Fuhr teed off at midafternoon for a round of fun and practice.

“We love coming to Tahoe every year,” said Tolliver, two-time tournament winner. “The people of this community embrace us every year.”

Lomax, who has played in every tournament since the event began in 1990, agreed.

“I must have something on the guys at NBC, because they keep inviting me back,” he joked. “Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places in the world; the hospitality here is the best. Edgewood is more gorgeous every year.”

The former All-Pro NFL quarterback has finished in the top 10 three times.

“The competition has gotten better since the beginning,” Lomax added. “The same guys seem to win all the time, but the golf overall is better.”

When asked about his game, Tolliver, who is currently a 5-1 favorite, had reserved confidence.

“We’ll find out. I’m a working man now, but I like my chances,” he said. “I’d put a little (money) on me, and a lot on (Tony) Romo. I don’t know how he snuck in at 20-1.”

Six-time champion Rick Rhoden was also spotted on the course — one of his earliest practice round appearances in years. Rhoden wasn’t permitted to play in last year’s tournament because he was a member of the Champions Tour.

Like many participating in the tournament this week, the celebrities were anxious to help the victims of the Angora fire.

“We lost our home to a fire when I was young, so I know what these people are going through,” said Tolliver, a former NFL quarterback. “I work for the Horseshoe Casino, which is part of Harrah’s, so I know we will be doing something.”

As the celebrities continue to come into a town that has meant so much to them over the years, the perils of the fire victims are in their minds, and they are ready to give back.

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