Chastain wows the crowd | NevadaAppeal.com

Chastain wows the crowd

Susan Wood
Nevada Appeal News Service

The American Century Championship kicked into high gear at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course Tuesday, with three-time soccer Olympian Brandi Chastain running between holes to cross-train. The unique brand of extreme golf by the gold medalist became the talk around the barrier ropes.

Chastain, best known for peeling her jersey off, revealing a sports bra after making the game-winning penalty kick against China in the World Cup in 1999, kept her fans running, too.

She rewarded them with rounds of autograph-signing at most holes, a golf swing that would lead anyone to believe she plays often and sportsmanship deserving of her image being displayed on a Wheaties box.

“Great shot. How about this guy?” she said of playing with Ryan Sheltra, general manager of the Bonanza Casino in Reno. They played with the Nevada Commission on Tourism’s Executive Director Bruce Bommarito and its Deputy Director Nancy Dunn, who covered much of the course barefoot.

“You know I played (golf) with (Mark) Rypien and (Mike) Ditka, and no one’s been friendlier with the crowd,” Sheltra said of Chastain.

“Bye, Brandi,” the crowd screamed when she left the 17th hole. She waved and flashed the peace sign.

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Waiting at the 18th for her, Sharon Matranga stood patiently with her 12-year-old daughter, Erin, just so the Sacramento youngster could meet her heroine.

“I play soccer. That’s what I want to do (professionally),” a starry-eyed Erin said. “She’s the one.”

“She impresses me, getting kids to play professional sports,” her mother said.

“She’s so good to them,” Chastain’s aunt, Judy Jackson, said, adding that she enjoys watching her niece interact with children. “It’s been fun for the family (to watch).”

Since Chastain decided to run on the course, she gave the golf cart to her grandparents, Roger and Hazel Chastain of Carson City.

“She goes all out,” he said, donning a San Francisco Giants cap.

Chastain grew up in San Jose, so she has a longtime relationship with Lake Tahoe. The 37-year-old star admitted her focus has been on soccer for more than 30 years, not much on golf. But one couldn’t tell Tuesday.

“Nice shot,” the fans commented on her drive at the 14th hole.

“It’s all smoke and mirrors,” she said. She’s attending but not competing in the tournament.

She said she wants to return to the U.S. women’s soccer team, from which she was cut just last month.

Chastain isn’t known to be one to run away from her commitments or achievements.

This year, she signed an agreement with ABC and ESPN to work as a sideline reporter.

Beyond participating for two years in the Olympic Games, the soccer forward became one of the best known women athletes in the world while a member of FIFA Women’s World Cup in China and serving at home on the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Of her classic World Cup winning gesture deemed one of the greatest moments in the history of women’s sports: “It was just one of those moments,” she said.