Justin Timberlake Tahoe: Pop star can just be like Mike at American Century Championship

Justin Timberlake Tahoe
Justin Timberlake cuts through the gallery at Edgewood Tahoe.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Tim Parsons

Justin Timberlake is the new Michael Jordan and Larry The Cable Guy isn’t as terrible as oddsmakers make him out to be.

This is what we learned on the opening day of the American Century Championship, which in its 26 year and has grown into a weeklong event. The golf competition is Friday through Sunday, but the overall event began Wednesday. It’s about the chance for everyday people to get an up-close look at celebrities, get their autographs, gamble side-by-side with them in the casinos and to experience Lake Tahoe during its best time of the summer.

“Hi, Justin!” a middle-aged man behind the rope line screamed to Timberlake, the pop singer who walked up the 17th fairway. “Did you bring your family with you? Tahoe sure is a great place for families.”

Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Larry The Cable Guy is a lefty. Don’t tell his fans.

Timberlake did not respond, and it was rather awkward for everybody within earshot. But that’s a typical snapshot from the event. When around celebrities, people become starstruck and do strange things like walk into the path of a moving golf cart.

Timberlake’s presence at Edgewood Tahoe was compared by a media member to that of Michael Jordan’s. Jordan is not here this year but when he is, he is followed by hordes of people so adoring they will scramble to retrieve Jordan’s discarded, slimy cigar from a trash can. Timberlake’s entourage is smaller than Jordan’s, but nonetheless, he was the people’s choice on Wednesday.

But wait until Chuck arrives. Charles Barkley is the face of Tahoe’s celebrity golf tournament. He’s been around almost since the beginning and each year his game gets worse. He used to stop his shot in midswing, his face expressing fear and surprise, as if the ball had turned into a rattlesnake. But last year, he simply swang his club with one hand, leisurely walking the course, joking with the gallery and taking a swing every 50 yards or so.

Oddmakers list Barkley at 5,000-1 to win the tourney. The next longest odds are for Larry The Cable Guy, who is 2,500-1. On the practice range, however, the comedian displayed a pretty nice stroke, and, get this, he’s a lefty. Better not tell his fans.

Mark Rypien, the retired quarterback who won the first and last championship here, is 5-1 to win the tourney. Four-time winner Billy Joe Tolliver opened as the favorite at 7/2.

Who will win? Tahoe Onstage predicts John Smoltz, 6-1, who is one of many former Atlanta Braves in Tahoe.

Mike Moreno of Spanish Springs, Nevada, strategically stood all afternoon next to the path to driving range, where each of the celebrities walked. Moreno enticed outfielder Andruw Jones by displaying an Atlanta Braves tattoo on his arm.

“This is the best money you can spend if you love sports,” Moreno said. “It’s gone up from $10 to $15 on Wednesday, but it’s still a good deal.”

For those not in Tahoe this weekend, the tourney will be televised Saturday and Sunday on NBC. For up-to-the minute coverage all week, visit HERE

Celebrity golf 2015
Autograph hunters await their celebrity prey.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Tim Parsons
Celebrity golf 2015
What’s better than taking a selfie at Lake Tahoe? Taking a selfie at Lake Tahoe while Justin Timberlake chips out of the sand.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Celebrity golf 2015
A Steeler fan, Marlene from Sacramento has Ben Roethlisberger and Jerome Bettis autographs from a previous American Century Championship.
Celebrity golf 2015
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden is blitzed by autograph seekers.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstate
Andruw Jones inspects the Atlanta Braves tattoo worn by Mike Moreno of Spanish Springs, Nevada.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
This tomahawk chop arm is appropriately adorned.
Celebrity golf 2015
Even when  just signing an autograph, it feels like Notre Dame’s coach, Brian Kelly, might blow his top.
Celebrity golf 2015
Justin Timberlake tees off at the signature 17.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Celebrity golf 2015
Timberlake and actor Alfonso Ribeiro exit the 17th green.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Celebrity golf 2015
We don’t know if he used a Mulligan, but Timberlake spent a long time taking shots on No. 17.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Celebrity golf 2015
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden goes long.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage
Fans watch Justin Timberlake’s drive on 18.
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ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.


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