Tournament field once again has star power |

Tournament field once again has star power

Matt O'Neill

This year’s American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Edgewood Tahoe is packed full of star power.

Although the rumor of volleyball player/super model Gabrielle Reece making her first-ever appearance was unfounded, there will still be plenty of celebrities teeing it up July 6-8.

In fact, all previous champions will be in attendance. Five-time winner and former Major League pitcher Rick Rhoden (1991, ’93, ’95, ’97, ’99) will be looking to keep his odd-year win streak intact, while the event’s first-ever champion Mark Rypien will look to get back to his old winning ways.

Other former champions who will compete are Dan Quinn (’92), Mario Lemieux (’98), Dick Anderson (’94), Billy Joe Tolliver (’96), and last year’s champion Al Del Greco.

With a cast as powerful as this year’s, the level of play is sure to be at its highest. Many of the players treat the Celebrity Players Tour events like PGA Tour players approach their tournaments.

Earlier this year, reigning Super Bowl champion quarterback Trent Dilfer held off a late charge by Rhoden in San Diego by shooting a final-round 62.

“I think our players are getting better,” Rhoden said. “You have to have three good rounds to win.

“I don’t think an over-par round will win it anymore.”

While all the players take every event seriously, this tournament is what they hope to win at least once.

“It’s our U.S. Open,” Dilfer said. “I don’t think people realize how competitive we get out there.”

Last year first-time competitor George Brett had his eyes opened to the magnitude of how serious the celebrities get.

“Last year, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “It was my first-ever event and I was amazed.”

One notable absence from this year’s list, at least for now, is “His Airness” Michael Jordan. Although he is not scheduled to play, Jordan may change his mind and join his good buddy, Charles Barkley, for a weekend of golf.

“There’s a rumor that he (Barkley) has rented out a high school gym to work out and might have a good friend join him,” said NBC Sports Vice President of Business Development Kevin Monaghan.

As in years past, there will be a Taylor Made Long Drive Contest and Beck’s Putt for $10 million.

Among others playing in the tournament will be Jerry Rice, Dan Marino, Jesse Ventura and Jason Kidd.

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