STATELINE, Nev. — After a cloudy Thursday morning start to festivities, clear skies and perfect temperatures set the stage for the remainder of the 23rd Annual American Century Celebrity Golf Championship last weekend at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
Eighty-two of some of the best athletes and entertainers in the world came together for fun in the sun, including former NBA forward and Turner Sports analyst Charles Barkley.
“The scenery is cool and the people are fantastic,” Barkley said about his favorite week. “Most people have such a wonderful time. It’s like a great week of your life.”
In a nod to area professional sports, Barkley explained his disappointment in the Kings potentially leaving Sacramento.
“It would be a travesty if the Kings don’t stay in Sacramento. I’ve been very disappointed in that entire scenario,” Barkley said. “Even when the Kings stink they have the best fans in the NBA, so I hope they stay there. It’s just an unfortunate situation.”
With all of the star-studded diversions, it’s easy to forget a competitive tournament was held. With a score of 66, former NHL hockey pro Dan Quinn won his fifth overall ACC championship.
Super Bowl XXVI Most Valuable Player Mark Rypien, also on hand, won the inaugural ACC title in 1990.
“I’ve won ’92, 2002 and 2012. And I thought about it all year. So I was thinking this would be a cool year, cool little anniversary,” Quinn said. “To win over a 20 year span is a cool thing.
“From 1991 when I played this first tournament, the Monday I go home I look forward to the next year. Even when I still had six years of hockey. You could ask every guy that’s about to get into a limo and go to an airplane, they’re going to check their mail in January, February for the invitation. This is a really cool week,” he added.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was the odds-on favorite going into the week.
“There’s a bunch of guys who can win but if I play well I like my chances,” said Romo who ended up fifth in the Stableford scoring format tournament with 54 points.
This year’s player list had 13 new golfers including Buffalo Bill Ryan Fitzpatrick and Oakland Raiders’ kicker Sebastian Janikowski.
The six days of fun is also special to the volunteers. Randi Norman of Truckee has volunteered at the ACC Golf Championships for five years.
“The people. The crowds, 90 percent of them are wonderful, having a great time up here, enjoying this beautiful place that we’re so blessed to live in,” said Norman whose favorites are Barkley, Emmitt Smith and skier Bode Miller.”
The week is also a good opportunity for fans to get up close with some of their idols.
“It’s great to see celebrities and athletes up close that you can’t really see on a regular basis. It’s an amazing experience. Everyone is so nice and it’s really fun. We got to meet Kevin Millar, Tim Brown and Jim McMahon. Last year we met like 20 or 30 people. We’ll definitely be back,” said Ben and Anthony Damico, father and son from San Jose.
The week also gives the celebrities a chance to exchange stories from their glory days.
“It’s pretty surreal. I got off the plane. First person I see is Emmitt Smith. He comes up and says, ‘Congratulations, champ.’ Doesn’t get any better than that,” said Shane Battier of the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. “So having to take all the lumps from Kevin Durant and Brandon Bass and David West, to hear Emmitt Smith say, ‘Congratulations, champ,’ it was worth it.”
Steve Kerr, an analyst for Turner Sports who hit a series-clinching shot for the Chicago Bulls in game No. 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals was eager to return to the tournament.
“This is one of the most fun weeks of the year,” Kerr said. “I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.”
Senior Director of Programming for NBC Sports Gary Quinn announced that all of the tournament sponsorships have been extended through 2015 for the ACC Golf Championships’ 25th anniversary.
“This has become one of the most entertaining and longest running events in all of golf,” he said. “If you would have told us that back in 1990 when we started, we probably would have told you that you were nuts.”
The 2013 American Century Celebrity Golf Championship is scheduled for July 16-21.