Lake Tahoe, NV (SportsNetwork.com) - Annika Sorenstam is the top choice at Harrah's Tahoe Casino Sports Book to defeat America's best celebrity players in the annual $600,000 American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
The legendary women's golf superstar, owner of 89 international tournament wins and over $22 million in prize money, is listed at 2-1 odds to outperform scores of prominent active and retired pro athletes and pocket the $125,000 first prize in the 54-hole, modified-Stableford competition. The tournament, celebrating its 25th anniversary, is set for July 18-20.
Eleven years removed from her memorable foray onto the men's PGA Tour at the Colonial Open in Fort Worth, Texas, Sorenstam will take on a group of contenders including eight-time champion and former MLB pitcher Rick Rhoden (5-1), defending champion and former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver (9-2), NBA star Steph Curry (10-1), former NFL quarterbacks John Elway (12-1), Trent Dilfer (12-1) and Mark Rypien (8-1) and actor Jack Wagner (7-1), a two-time champion.
At the Colonial in 2003, Sorenstam dealt with the intense media spotlight and went toe-to-toe with the best players in the world, missing the cut by three strokes. She announced her retirement in 2008 and her last tournament start came in that season's year-end ADT Championship.
"I'm still a very competitive person. That doesn't go away," Sorenstam said. "I know that once I get inside the ropes, the adrenalin will be pumping a little extra. I'm practicing a little bit again, getting back into the grind."
Sorenstam was attracted by the modified Stableford format, which awards 10 points for a double-eagle, eight for a hole-in-one, six?for eagle, three for birdie, one for par, zero?for bogey, and minus-2?for double-bogey or higher. "It's Stableford, so it is competition with the men from the same tees," Sorenstam added. "I'm familiar with what the winning score has been in the past, so I kind of know what kind of score I'm looking for. I always target to win. That's my focus. That's why I'm practicing."
Other contenders include former MLB pitchers Mark Mulder (7-1) and John Smoltz (8-1) and former NHL standout Jeremy Roenick (7-1). Among the other big-name celebrities listed at the legal Nevada sports books are Roger Clemens (18-1), Marshall Faulk and Jerry Rice (30-1), Ray Allen, Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers, Geno Auriemma and Steve Young (50-1), Jason Kidd (200-1) and Charles Barkley (501-1).