For no good reason really, I have clear memories of having watched the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament. (I think the tournament had a different name when I watched regularly during my teen years). Maybe it's just because I was in the habit of watching golf more regularly at that time of my life. Of course, this part of the calendar golf year is as exciting as any, with the U.S. Open having come and gone and the British Open looming not far away. Maybe I just wanted to see Michael Jordan playing golf. Who knows.
Regardless, I'll have an opportunity to rekindle my interest in the tournament this weekend during the tournament's 22nd edition of the event.
For Atlanta sports fans, there's a number of hometown celebrities to watch and root for -- six, in fact, if you count a comedian and actor, making Atlanta the most well-represented metropolitan market. Here's the six celebrities that either played in Atlanta or were born in Atlanta scheduled to be a part of the 85 player field:
Matt Ryan, QB Atlanta Falcons
Greg Maddux, SP Atlanta Braves
John Smoltz, P Atlanta Braves
Fred McGriff, 1B Atlanta Braves
Chris Chandler, QB Atlanta Falcons
Brian Baumgartner, Atlanta born comedian aka as Kevin Malone from The Office
Not a bad set of threesomes to golf with, huh? And not just in terms of the conversation. All six can swing the sticks pretty darn well. Matt Ryan has a handicap of under 4 and placed 36th in the event last year, the first year he competed. Baumgartner, free of much responsibility at the office, carries a 3.4 handicap (not quite sure why he's listed as just a 200:1 favorite with a handicap like that). McGriff, no slouch himself, is listed as a 100:1 favorite after finishing 55th last year.
Don't forget about former All Pro quarterback Chris Chandler, who is the only one of the six with an ACC title under his belt. He won the 18th annual tournament back in 2007. After a 22nd place showing last year, Chandler is listed as a 12:1 favorite to claim his second title.
Then there's Maddux and Smoltz, two longtime friends and teammates that have played with each other on countless occasions over the years. They'll get to do so once more this weekend. The Hall of Fame bound hurlers are paired together for Friday's opening round.
Maddux may have had a better career as a starting pitcher for the Braves (no knock on Smoltzy there), but Smoltz definitely has the upper hand on the golf course. His game is rock solid, and now that he's not preoccupied with the start of the second half of the baseball season, he's free to play in the event more regularly. Look for him to win one of these years, perhaps even this weekend. He finished 2nd last year in what I believe was his first year participating. He's listed as a 4:1 favorite this year, behind only co-favorites Tony Romo and Rick Rhoden.
For more information about the event, including broadcasting schedules and complete player information, check out the ACE's website.