Three-way tie for the lead at celebrity golf tournament |

Three-way tie for the lead at celebrity golf tournament

Jeremy Evans

STATELINE – Last year, three-day total of 8-under won the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. This year, the field has some work to do if that same number will win again.

15 players are within striking distance of the lead after Friday’s first round only saw three rounds under par . Neil Lomax, Steve Bartkowski and defending champion Dan Quinn all shot 1-under 71s at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. The biggest surprise, though, may be that Rick Rhoden, a five-time champ who’s the favorite to win again this year, shot a 2-over 74.

“For the way things we’re going for me today, things could’ve been a lot worse,” Rhoden said “The course is a lot longer because the ball isn’t rolling harder. I don’t care if the it plays long, just if the greens play smoother. I’d rather be four shots ahead but it could’ve been worse.”

John Elway and former tournament winner Dick Anderson are amongst the crowded group at even par and 1-over. Elway, who hasn’t led in this tournament since its first year 13 years ago, feels he has a good as chance as anybody.

“I putted pretty well today,” Elway said. “So if I can continue to putt like I putted today, then sure. I think I missed two or three greens. So I’m hitting the ball well enough and if I keep rolling, sure I have a chance. Get hot and see what happens.

Elway, who’s best ever finish in Tahoe was fifth in 1998, still considers Rhoden and Quinn, a two-time champ, as the frontrunners.

“Even though Rhoden is not on the leaderboard, he’ll be there,” Elway said. “Quinn, you know, he was over par today and brought it back to 1-under, so he’ll be there. Those two guys right there are probably the ones that we are all chasing.”

Anderson, who won the 1994 tournament, also feels he can win again. And that’s what it so great about this tournament now, Quinn says. A few years ago, only a handful of players had a shot of winning. Now, there are over a dozen who can shoot low scores. Quinn still feels a low score will win this weekend.

“I thought the winning score would be a lot lower,” said Quinn, a former NHL star with the Pittsburgh Penguins. “It might still get to really low but the greens are the best they have ever been. The only thing you can do today is lose it, shoot yourself out of it. I thought I was on my way to doing that. It’s nice to have two rounds this weekend. There’s probably a ton of guys still in the event.”

Other notables: Michael Jordan is 11 shots back of the lead with an 83. The threesome of Charles Barkley, Mike Bibby and New York City firefighter Kevin O’Brien was the most popular group. Barkley, who shot a 108, and Bibby, who shot a 127, were the in the trees more than squirrels. O’Brien shot a respectable 92. Barkley said afterwards he wanted to make sure he plays today with Bibby, perhaps so he has the feeling he can beat somebody. Bibby is in second to last place, with his teammate Chris Webber, who shot an all-time tournament worst 143 on Friday, in last place. Webber broke his on record which he set last year with a 131.