STATELINE — Eric Abowd, a local financial consultant, and Jerry Massad, the owner of the Cracker Box, played in Tuesday’s Lake Tahoe Celeb-Amateur Tuesday afternoon.
The local businessmen were paired with former Packers wide receiver Sterling Sharpe, a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. Scott Davis and John James also played in the group.
“I’ve played the last six or seven years,” said Abowd, who plays to a 24 handicap. “I usually invite clients. I like playing at this tournament. I’ve played with Sterling every year, I think. He’s good, and we have good rapport.
“He helps me. My swing is a little bit better this year.. I look forward to this tournament every year.”
Massad enjoyed the experience immensely.
“I had a blast,” he said. “Sterling is a very nice man, and he hits the ball a mile. He is a lot of fun to play golf with.”
Throughout the round, Sharpe was helpful to others while still concentrating on his own game.
And, at the end of the round, he gave each of his playing partners a medallion with the Packers logo on one side and the Hall of Fame logo on the other side. Truly a class act.
“I think it’s all Eric,” Sharpe said when asked why he’s been paired with Abowd so often. “It’s fun.”
RAIDERS ON THE RISE: Sebastian Janikowski has been a fixture with the Oakland Raiders for a long time, and he’s been through the good times and the bad.
The 16-year NFL veteran kicker, who’s playing in the 27th annual American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course this week, thinks his team is on the rise.
And, with players like quarterback Derek Carr, wide receiver Amari Cooper and pass rusher Khalil Mack, you would have to agree.
“Jack (Del Rio, head coach) came in and changed the whole culture around here,” Janikowski said prior to his pro-am round Tuesday morning. “We have to learn how to win. We have put ourselves in position to win games, but we haven’t been able to finish. We have to start doing that. It’s 90 percent mental. It’s a matter of buying in and believing in yourself.”
Janikowski is the Raiders’ all-time leading scorer with 1,675 points, and he owns the team’s record for field goal percentage at 80.2 percent. He also has converted 99.4 percent of his extra points. He has been Mr. Dependable.
His length is legendary. He has a 63-yard field goal, and in 2011, he set a single-game record with three field goals of 50 yards or more, and he also has an NFL-best 57-yarder in overtime. He also has kicked five field goals in a game three different times.
And, he shows no signs of slowing down.
“I feel great,” Janikowski said. “I had a really good off-season; did a lot of running and weight work. As long as I feel great, I want to keep kicking and contributing.”
The Oakland Coliseum is the only baseball-football combo stadium in the NFL, which means for part of the season Janikowski has to kick off the dirt.
“I’ve been doing this for so many years that the dirt doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I’ve gotten used to it.”
This is Janikowski’s fifth appearance at the ACC. His best finish was 34th in 2012 when he tallied 13 points in the Modified Stableford format. His best-ever round came last year when he tallied 14 points in the third round to wipe out two bad rounds.
LEMASTER TRIUMPHS: Sacramento’s Heather LeMaster captured the ACC women’s long drive competition with a 336-yard effort. The winning drive went 246 yards in the air and rolled another 90 yards.
Her mark will be submitted to the Guiness Book of World Records for the longest drive at more than 6,000 feet elevation. Of her nine drives, only four counted, and three of them were more than 300 yards including rollout.
She beat Blair O’Neal by 11 yards and 22-year-old Tahoe resident Morgan Murphy by 22 yards. Kathryn Tappen, a NHL commentator for NBC Sports, was a distant fourth at 255 yards.
“I really wanted to go between 335 and 345,” LeMaster said. “I wanted something in the 40s (340s). That 290 ball (in the air) was hit, but I hit it too high on the club face.
“Sometimes you have to give up accuracy. I only had four in the grid (fairway) out of nine. I knew accuracy was not going to be my forte, but I knew length could be.”
MISSING IN ACTION: Four notable names — eight-time winner Rick Rhoden, four-time winner Billy Joe Tolliver, Hall of Fame reliever John Smoltz and Denver Broncos GM John Elway — are not in the field this year.
According to tournament officials, Elway had planned to attend, but the family booked a Europe trip, and the tournament was pushed back a week when NBC was awarded the British Open. Smoltz also had a trip planned, which conflicted with the new tournament date.
No official reason was given for the absence of Tolliver and Rhoden, though tournament officials have made no secret of the fact they like to infuse the tournament with new blood every year.
There are 12 new players — Wounded Warrior Open winner Andrew Bachelder, ex-football great Doug Flutie, ex-Colorado first baseman Todd Helton, Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala, female long drive specialist Heather LeMaster, Cincinnati Bengal coach Marvin Lewis, model/golf commentator Blair O’Neal, Sharks star Joe Pavelski, Kathryn Tappen, NHL on NBC host, NFL wide receiver Golden Tate, NASCAR driver Brian Vickers and ex-Olympic soccer star Abby Wambach — in the field this year.
DREAM PAIRING: Tournament officials, though pairings have yet to be announced officially, have said Steph Curry, Iguodala and Dell Curry will play together in the opening round on Friday.
Steph Curry is a 6-1 favorite, ranking behind defending champion Mark Mulder (3-1), Mardy Fish (3-1), two-time champ Mark Rypien (9-2) and Eric Gagne (5-1).
Steph Curry tied for 28th in 2010, and then tied for fourth in 2013 and tied for 13th in 2014. He missed last year because of the birth of his second child.