Another year of the American Century Championship has passed, and if you judge by the attendance, the event was a rousing success.
Nearly 19,000 attended on Saturday alone, and probably at least 1,000 of those fans trailed the threesome of Justin Timberlake, Steph Curry and Alfonso Ribeiro. That made sense for TV and it made sense for security reasons, too.
Curry came with his own bodyguard, so all you needed was 3-to-4 burly law enforcement types to make sure the group could get from hole to hole without being mobbed and things were going to be OK. Following everybody else around was cake compared to that group. You never had to jockey for position.
Timberlake and Ribeiro played together all three days. I’m thinking that’s because the two are good friends, and I think in many ways the ACC is going to let Timberlake call some shots. It’s no big deal except that it’s slow going for anybody behind that group. It can make for a lot of standing around as was the case on Saturday.
Curry had a rough three days at the ACC. The farther the Warriors go in the playoffs, the tougher it is for him to have his golf game in tip-top shape every year. The ACC is turning into a solid tournament. Par golf is not the answer. You better shoot between 67 and 70 everyday if you want to be in the running, especially if guys like Mardy Fish, Jack Wagner and Mark Mulder are in the field.
I don’t know what the share is for the tournament. I don’t know how many people are watching during the weekend.
When you have star power like Timberlake and Curry, why wouldn’t you start later in the day and have the final nine holes be in prime time on he East Coast? It would be worth experimenting for one year. Heck you can play golf this time of the year until 7 p.m.
From a deadline point of view I like the early starts each day. It makes deadline a breeze, especially when you’re doing multiple stories. I wonder what starting later would do to the attendance? I’m sure tournament organizers wouldn’t go for it because they like the mob scene on No. 17. They would, I’m sure, say it’s great television.
I was disappointed by the absence of Rick Rhoden and Billy Joe Tolliver this year. When I asked for an explanation, I was told the tournament was always trying to infuse newer, younger talent into the mix.
I say if you have won the tournament eight times like Rhoden, you should be able to decide whether you want to come back. Rhoden is a class act and a darn good golfer. I know he’s usually in the interview room every year, but he doesn’t play to the crowd at 17, but so what? Not everybody needs to do that.
To me, the only reason you don’t invite a guy like Rhoden back is if he’s a jerk to fans, the media or tournament officials, and that’s not the indication I got from tournament officials.
Honestly, I could go down that list of players and easily whack off a dozen the tournament could do without. I realize the tournament is about entertainment, but it’s also about decent golf.
I mean the ACC was worried about how it would do without Michael Jordan, and I think that’s been answered. The tournament has survived nicely.
The classiest guy, at least in the short time I’ve covered the tournament, has to be Jack Wagner. Even during competitive rounds when fans aren’t supposed to request autographs or photos, you’ll see Wagner pose for a quick snapshot, and he’s quick to say thanks when fans applaud his shots.