SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Celebrities are trickling in, fans are stockpiling autograph pens and the golf course is undergoing the manicure of a lifetime.
South Lake Tahoe is ready for the 24th Annual American Century Championship.
Nearly 100 sports and entertainment stars will tee off at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course this week in the much-anticipated celebrity golf tournament, which runs Tuesday through Sunday. The celebrities will vie for the $125,000 winner’s share of the $600,000 purse. More importantly, they will all be competing for bragging rights, and except for a few perennial bottom-dwellers, anyone’s got a shot.
Of course, Dan Quinn and Rick Rhoden seem to have a better shot.
Early odds have Quinn ranked No. 1 and Rhoden ranked No. 2, which is no huge surprise since Quinn is a four-time champion and Rhoden a tournament-leading eight-time champion. Former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver is hot on their heels, ranked No. 3 with a 2010 championship title to his name.
But perhaps more than championships, this tournament is about the celebrities, and like usual, all the big names will be there.
Notable returning players include 11-time surfing World Champion Kelly Slater, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin, Olympic gold medalist skier Bode Miller, NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin, NHL Hall of Famer Brett Hull, NHL All-Star goalie Martin Brodeur, NBA champion Shane Battier of the Miami Heat, former New York Knicks point guard and Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd, and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry.
The list goes on, but before it does there are a few new guys who should be noted.
Michael Phelps, 18-time Olympic gold medal swimmer, will make his ACC debut and some Hank Haney instruction could make him a viable threat on the golf course. Joining Phelps in the ACC rookie ranks will be future MLB Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, NFL Hall of Famer John Randle, former NFL Pro-Bowl wide receiver Andre Reed, former NBA All-Star Detlef Schrempf, MLB All-Star Trevor Hoffman, MLB All-Star Tim Wakefield, retired NFL linebacker Brian Urlacher, and comedian Larry the Cable Guy.
Of course the usual suspects and crowd favorites, like Charles Barkley, Ray Romano and 2011 champion Jack Wagner, will all compete.
The NFL participants include Hall of Famers John Elway and Marcus Allen, Denver Broncos coach John Fox, former All-Pro quarterbacks Vinny Testaverde and Joe Theismann, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski, former Pro Bowl wide receiver Tim Brown, and former NFL coach and ESPN football analyst Herm Edwards.
Hockey checks in with aforementioned Hull and Brodeur, NHL All-Star Center Jeremy Roenick, and former All-Star Mike Modano. The 1980 Olympic Gold Medal winner and team captain, Mike Eruzione, and Joe Sakic, the former NHL All-Star and $1 million 2011 tournament hole-in-one winner, will also be on hand.
Major League Baseball greats scheduled to appear include Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, All-Star pitchers Bret Saberhagen and Greg Maddux, outfielders Joe Carter and Kenny Lofton, and power-hitter Fred McGriff.
So where’s the best place to watch all these celebrities take a swing?
“Spectators probably want to be out at 17 green on the weekend because that’s when the celebrities will autograph footballs and throw them into the crowd,” said Mike Milthorpe, ACC tournament director for more than 20 years.
Hole 17 is where all the action goes down. It’s the site for the Korbel Spray Off on Thursday; a competition to see which celebrity can shoot a cork farthest. It’s also the site for the Korbel Hole-in-One/Closest to the Pin Challenge on Friday, followed but a Big Break Golf Show exhibition on Saturday when 75 panes of glass will be brought out to see which celebrity can break the glass best.
Advance tickets are available online at www.TahoeSouth.com, at specific retail locations or at the entrance gate during the tournament. Discounted tickets are also being sold at Raley’s, Nob Hill and Bel Air locations throughout Northern California and Nevada.
Daily tickets are $15 for the Lake Tahoe Celebrity-Amateur on Tuesday, the practice round on Wednesday and the American Century Celebrity-Amateur on Thursday. Tickets are $25 for each tournament round, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A Patron Badge Season Pass, good for admission all six days, will be on sale for $60. Kids 10 and younger are free when accompanied by a ticket-holding adult.