American Century Championship releases 2015 field; Rypien returns to defend title
STATELINE — There’s one place where NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB rivals meet annually to settle old scores. The venue: Lake Tahoe. The event: The American Century Championship. At stake: a share in the $625,000 prize purse. The scene: six days of fist bumps, high fives, autograph signing, photos with fans, laughs galore and some great golf.
A blockbuster lineup of sports legends, all-stars, Olympians and hall of famers plus Hollywood celebrities of film and television will go tee to green July 14-19 at the 26th American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Club.
The No. 1 celebrity golf tournament in America brings plenty of high-stakes competition, thrills and a fair share of wild swings, long putts and errant golf shots to the famed Edgewood course as a field of more than 80 players tee it up and put their game on display before galleries totaling some 40,000 who line fairways, beaches and watch aboard speed boats, sailboats and chartered yachts along the shoreline.
Only the American Century Championship matches sports superstars such as Aaron Rodgers, Charles Barkley, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Roger Clemens and Bode Miller with diverse celebrities such as Larry the Cable Guy, Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” and Kevin Nealon in the 54-hole Modified Stableford format golf tournament.
Televised coverage of the tournament is aired live on NBC Sports and NBCSN with additional coverage on Golf Channel. First round Friday coverage airs live on NBCSN from 3 to 5 p.m., while second round Saturday and final round Sunday coverage will be live on NBC from noon to 3 p.m.
Defending 2014 champion Mark Rypien, the Washington Redskins’ former Super Bowl XXVI MVP who won the very first American Century Championship in 1990, returns this year. Rypien will play alongside past winners Billy Joe Tolliver (three-time champion) and Rick Rhoden (eight-time champion).
The American Century Championship annually brings in a bevy of new superstars to keep the player list fresh and packed with new faces among the pro sports and entertainment fields. First timers in 2015 include former fashion model and actress Kim Alexis, former tennis star and author James Blake, former MLB all-star pitcher David Cone, country musician, rapper and southern rock anthem songwriter Colt Ford, Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly, actor and comedian Rob Riggle of “The Daily Show” and “22 Jump Street,” Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and Brandon Weeden of the Dallas Cowboys.
Three recently elected hall of famers in the field are Jerome Bettis, “The Bus” of Pittsburgh Steelers fame, Tim Brown from the Oakland Raiders and John Smoltz of the Atlanta Braves. Smoltz will join his former pitching rotation mates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.
NFL stars also include hall of famers John Elway, Marcus Allen, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and Steve Young. Current football stars include reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, five-time Pro Bowl and All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen, Pro Bowlers Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals and Wes Welker of the Denver Broncos, plus Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith. Recently retired superstars include Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and Rodney Harrison of the New England Patriots.
In addition to Rivera and Kelly, coaches in the field include South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier and former Jets and Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards.
The American Century Championship has an impressive lineup of former Major League Baseball players including hall of famer Maddux, two-time all-star and six-time stolen base champion Vince Coleman along with all-star pitchers Clemens and David Cone, Trevor Hoffman, Derek Lowe, Mark Mulder, Bret Saberhagen, John Smoltz, Tim Wakefield and David Wells. World Series champion Kevin Millar, all-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez and outfielders David Justice and Kenny Lofton round out the baseball contingent.
National Hockey League stars include hall of famers Mike Modano and Joe Sakic, all-star goalie Martin Brodeur and famed center Jeremy Roenick. They join U.S. hockey team captain Mike Eruzione, best known for scoring the winning goal in the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” game against the Soviet Union.
Other notable Olympians include U.S. Ski Team alpine ski racer and gold medalist Bode Miller, silver medalist Mardy Fish (tennis) and gold medalist Dan Jansen (speedskating).
Film, television, comedy stars include Anthony Anderson of ABC’s hit comedy “Black-ish,” Brian Baumgartner, best known for his role as Kevin Malone in “The Office,” Dennis Haysbert, Oliver Hudson of the ABC hit drama series “Nashville” and CBS Comedy “Rules of Engagement,” longtime American Century player and fan favorite actor and comedian Kevin Nealon of “Saturday Night Live” and “Weeds,” “Seinfeld” actor and National Dog Show host John O’Hurley and Alfonso Riberio, best known for his role as Carlton Banks on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
Retired U.S. Army Corporal Chad Pfeifer, an Iraqi War Veteran and amputee whose golf-centered rehabilitation turned him into a top-tier tournament player, joined the field in 2014. Pfeifer returns this year along with retired Army Sgt. Maj. Rodney Gorman who won the Bush Center’s fourth-annual Warrior Open at Las Colinas Country Club last October.
For the second year, the American Century Championship is offering complimentary tickets for all U.S. military. All active duty, reservists, National Guard and veterans can receive two complimentary tickets, including one for a guest each day of the tournament. All service men and women can apply by going to https://verify.sheerid.com/americancenturychampionship2015.
For the latest details, photos, celebrity tweets and fan contests visit @ACChampionship on Twitter and Instagram and LTCelebrityGolf on Facebook. Tournament information can be found at http://www.tahoecelebritygolf.com.
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Students from North Tahoe and Truckee recently made the trip to Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley to compete in the annual Kays Ostrom Invitational.