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American Century Championship gets underway

Amputee Chad Pfeifer putts during a practice round at the American Century Championship in South Lake Tahoe.
Amputee Chad Pfeifer putts during a practice round at the American Century Championship in South Lake Tahoe.
Photo courtesy Jeff Bayer.

From South Lake Tahoe; What NBC knows about golf tournaments? How to present them. As the 2014 American Century Championship gets its 25th edition underway, the thought comes to mind about NBC’s innovative golf ideas. The celebrity tournament in Lake Tahoe comes to mind as one. There are a lot of celebrity tournaments. Most are one-day affairs for charity. The PGA Tour offers celeb events as ProAms. There was even a short-lived Celebrity Tour. Here’s one difference, NBC has taken a group of disparate athletes and entertainers and made a stand alone tournament of mostly hit and giggle golfers as popular and enduring as a tour event. In fact the event competes for viewers with a professional golf major.

NBC knows how to create an event for sponsors that delivers the obligatory advertising and promotion and also serves as a first class perk for companies that do business with sponsors. The event makes charity contributions too, just like a Tour event.

The event has changed with the times. It’s become even more fun and the field has evolved over the years. This year the field is unquestionably highlighted by Annika Sorenstam and one lesser known athlete, Chad Pfeifer listed simply as Bush Center Wounded Warrior Champion. Pfeifer, an amputee from his military days, is a feel good story for both his background and his golf. He’s also among the leaders posting 24 points in his opening round.

The tournament impresses celebs and fans alike. “You don’t get nervous in the NFL like you do here,” according to veteran Jacksonville Jaguars placekicker, Josh Scobee. “This is the coolest tournament I’ve ever played in.” Scobee, who plays to a plus handicap overcame his jitters to post 20 points on Friday.

The scoring system is a modified Stableford which was instituted a number of years ago as tournament organizers recognized the differential between the contending golfers and those that were merely recreational players. The system gives one point for par, three points for birdie and six points for eagle. Bogeys are not penalized but doubles receive minus two points. Look for fan favorite Charles Barkley to be minus points as he is now playing one-handed. That’s okay, Charles charms and entertains the crowds.

Sacramento’s Isaac Sanchez is stomping the fairways carrying Jerry Rice’s bag and having a blast.

Tickets are still available at the gate. West Sacramento based Raley’s/Bel Air/Nob Hill markets have been offering discount vouchers at their stores and may still have them available. During the mid-morning Friday rush a separate line was set up at the gate to handle fans entering with Raley’s discounts.

Can’t make it up to Tahoe? Tune to NBC.

Want to keep up with Sacramento golf and keep it brief? Check out Vince Mastracco’s articles. These days the longtime radio golfshow host is entertaining readers instead of listeners. Be daring and click the “subscribe” button located somewhere on this page. It’s free.

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