Rice calls his game ‘OK’ heading into his 18th ACC
STATELINE — Unlike many athletes in the field for the 24th annual American Century Championship, ex-49ers great Jerry Rice took up golf later in life.
“It was in 1986 when I started hitting golf balls,” Rice said after a brief practice session at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. “I became obsessed with it.
“It’s always something different (with golf). You get on the range and work on different things on different days.”
Rice, who has been a fixture at the ACC, is playing for the 17th time. He finished 10th in 2009 with 55 points and tied for 15th in 2011 with 47 points.
In stroke play, he averaged 83.2, and since the tournament went to the Modified Stableford scoring system, he’s averaged 13.43 points per year.
If you know Rice, he’s the ultimate competitor. He’d like nothing more than to be in the thick of things this weekend.
“It’s OK,” Rice said about his game during an interview with the ESPN affiliate in Reno. “It’s too early to predict how I’ll do. You have to go out and execute.
“You have to hit the greens and make some putts. You have to get it up and get it down, and keep away from the big numbers. I don’t want to have take anything more than a bogey.”
The ACC is without basketball great Michael Jordan, and Rice said he will miss him.
“I liked going up against him and taking him down,” Rice said, laughing. “It was always a good battle.”
Rice was asked if he could take anything away from football and apply it to golf.
“Everything,” Rice said. “In golf you visualize hitting a great shot; hitting the ball you want to. In football, you visualize making a good catch and watching the ball all the way into your hands.”
It would be impossible to let Rice get away without asking him about Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers starting quarterback out of the University of Nevada.
Making just 10 starts last year, Kaepernick helped guide the team all the way to the Super Bowl. The young quarterback has been in the news a couple of different time — most recently for appearing nude in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue.
“I’m disappointed that I wasn’t in (a magazine) when I played,” Rice said. “I feel my body was like that. I don’t think he’ll take any flack from the team. I think Vernon Davis did it as well. The first day (of camp) they might harass him a bit.”
The other time, he was seen wearing a Miami Dolphins hat in public.
“It’s not something I would have done (wearing the Miami hat). Once you’re a Niner, you’re a Niner,” Rice said. “He’s a fantastic player. I’ve met him a couple of times. I like that he wants to get better.”
Twelve quarterbacks, barring any last-minute withdrawals, are entered in this year’s event.
Three of the quarterbacks — Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith and Carson Palmer — still are active. Smith and Palmer switched teams in the off-season, going to the Chiefs and Cardinals, respectively.
The retired QBs in the field are Chris Chandler, Trent Dilfer, John Elway, Trent Green, Jim McMahon, Mark Rypien, Steve Spurrier, Billy Joe Tolliver and Joe Theisman.
There are no women entered in the event this year.
Actress Angie Everhart and soccer great Brandi Chastain played last year. Chastain was at minus-14 after two rounds and then withdrew. Everhart was at minus-75 and finished in 79th place, only beating Charles Barkley.