Athletes and celebrities are set to get back in the swing of things along the shores of Lake Tahoe. The 26th-annual American Century Championship tees off next week at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, the latest edition of the South Shore’s star-studded event.
“It’s the best week on the calendar,” said former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer, who will be making his 17th appearance at the tournament. “You can ask anybody who plays in it in — good golfer, bad golfer, entertainer, athlete — this is the week that we all hope we get the invite on, and once we do it’s an immediate ‘yes’ and you circle it on the calendar.”
Camaraderie and competition plays a major role in the popularity of the tournament amongst a field filled with household names. But the ACC’s fan interaction and atmosphere is what a majority of the stars cherish the most.
“Let’s be realistic — the best thing about the tournament is the people,” said tournament mainstay and fan favorite Charles Barkley. “I mean, the fans, they’re always amazing.”
For as popular as Barkley is on and off the course at Stateline, he will likely have some competition for the biggest gallery when the three-round tournament begins next Friday. That distinction will almost certainly belong to entertainment superstar Justin Timberlake, who will make his first ACC appearance.
Timberlake headlines a celebrity contingent that includes Alfonso Ribeiro, Ray Romano, Larry the Cable Guy and Brian Baumgartner along with tournament newcomers Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” and Rob Riggle. That group also features two-time champion Jack Wagner, who will be looking for his first tournament victory since 2011.
On the sports side, football is well represented highlighted by reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. Soon-to-be Hall of Famers Jerome Bettis and Tim Brown are included amongst the gridiron golfers, along with current hall members Jerry Rice, Steve Young, John Elway and Marshall Faulk.
Defending champion and former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien has the chance to be third repeat winner in tournament history. Current pro football players include Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski and Cincinnati Bengals linebacker A.J. Hawk, who hasn’t yet decided if he’ll use a fan as a tackling dummy as he did at last year’s tournament.
“I have no problem doing it again,” Hawk said. “But I was talking about it with my brother who’s been my caddie every year I’ve played in this, and I’ve got to find a way — we got to find a way — to make it better.”
Fresh off coaching the Golden State Warriors to an NBA championship, Steve Kerr leads the way for a small basketball group that includes recent opposition in Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith. The hockey players are led by Hall of Famers Joe Sakic and Mike Modano along with Jeremy Roenick, who took second in last year’s event.
The boys of summer will be represented by soon-to-be Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz, who will hit the links alongside enshrined teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Not to be left out among that crowd is eight-time ACC champion Rick Rhoden.
And for a second straight year, the field will feature a pair of decorated military veterans. Single-leg amputee Chad Pfeifer stole the show at the 2014 tournament and will be joined by Purple Heart recipient Rod Gorman, who earned a bid by winning the most recent Warrior Open.
For more tournament information and a complete player list, visit www.tahoecelebritygolf.com.