Mike Modano makes first-ever albatross in American Century Championship, ties for lead

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. — The best start he’s ever had puts John Smoltz a step closer to realizing a goal he has long held, winning the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe.

Smoltz scored 25 points in Friday’s first round, which put him in a tie atop the leaderboard with Mike Modano.

Smoltz, the former Major League Baseball pitcher and Hall of Famer has always golfed well at Edgewood, but has never won.

He said getting out to a strong start was paramount this year.

Modano made a double-eagle on the par-5 No. 18, the first time that has been done in tournament history, for 10 points on the hole and 25 for the day.

Modano, who said he was about 200 yards out on his second shot on No. 18, was still in disbelief after his round.

“I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. We were struggling between the 6 and 7. I was, like, I just want to try to ride the wind and just avoid Laimbeer’s Lake there and get on the putting surface,” Modano said. “It came off good. My eyesight is shot at 51. So I’m, like, I can’t see things halfway off the club. TJ (Oshie) went crazy. And some people over by the side went nuts. I was like, man, that may have went in. So pretty cool.”

Two-time winner Jack Wagner also had a strong start, scoring 24 points Friday as did Joe Pavelski. Kyle Williams, Vinny Del Negro and Annika Sorenstam each scored 23.

Wagner, 61, is one of two players, along with Jim McMahon, to compete in all 32 celebrity tournaments at Edgewood.

Smoltz made five birdies Friday, worth 3 points each, and had three putts lip out, or he could had an even better round.

The fans are back at Edgewood this year, after not being allowed in 2020, and the energy was palpable.

Especially along No, 17, the beach hole, where boats and fans lined both sides of the fairway and green.

Smoltz noticed the difference.

“It’s awesome. I absolutely love it. With that comes a little bit of nerves,” he said. “The beauty of today, our group was Joe Buck and Joe Mauer and the pace was consistent. So it didn’t feel like the 30-minute, 20-minute waits which really helps me because of my body.

Smoltz, 57, has been telling anyone who would listen that he really wants to win the ACC.

“I think they thought I was crazy, my life would be incomplete if I don’t win Tahoe. They’re like, ‘you can’t be serious,'” Smoltz said. “I’m serious. This is the event I’ve always wanted. It’s followed my career. I’m supposed to win a Cy Young, and finally did in ’96. But you’re always trying to feel like, when people tell you should win or win a Cy Young and you’re not doing it, even though my expectations are higher — it’s the same feeling here. It’s like, oh, I can’t believe you haven’t won yet. All my buddies back home. I want to be the oldest winner and I can kind of shut them up.”

Sorenstam had an appreciative following Friday. She joked that they are her neighbors.

“The first tee was special. But even throughout the other holes. They’re so positive and cheering on and encouraging. It’s really nice to see that,” Sorenstam said. “It’s not something I’m used to now. And to go up there it makes me want to play well and hit good shots. I’m thankful they came out and are watching and hopefully they’ll have a good time as well.”

The celebrities competing in the celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood this week seem to think Charles Barkley has, indeed, improved at golf.

Barkley, the NBA analyst, Hall of Fame player and a fan favorite, has forever battled his swing and almost always placed last or second to last in the field of about 85-90 celebrities.

But after last year’s tournament, he began working with golf coach Stan Utley, and the talk has been that Barkley’s game was much improved.

That led to the Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill to post the following proposition bet: Will Barkley finish among the top 70?

A ‘yes’ opened at 16-to-1, meaning a $100 bet would return $1,600, but betting in support of Barkley was so strong at Caesars and William Hill platforms that the odds kept dropping. When betting closed at the start of Barkley’s first round Friday at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, it was down to 4-to-1.

After Friday’s round, Barkley was tied for 82nd place with minus-16 points.

The 54-hole tournament concludes Sunday. It is televised live on NBC (Saturday and Sunday), as well as live streamed on the NBC Sports app.

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source https://sports.yahoo.com/mike-modano-makes-first-ever-010657130.html?src=rss

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