In Nev., Boller heeds heckler, gambles way to pretty shot

The Kickoff

July 19, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

STATELINE, Nev. -- I couldn't wait for Ravens training camp, so I went in search of Kyle Boller over the weekend.

Found him on the scenic shores of Lake Tahoe, where he was participating in the American Century Championship golf tournament along with Ben Roethlisberger and Charles Barkley and the handful of truly serious celebrity golfers who actually vie for the $100,000 first prize each year.

Boller isn't bad, but he's no soap opera star. Jack Wagner of The Bold and the Beautiful became the first non-professional athlete to win the event when he edged former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver by 1 point in the tournament, which is played under a modified Stableford scoring system that gives points for pars, birdies and eagles and deducts points for anything worse than a bogey.

Boller finished 37th in the field of 80 golfers, scoring 24 points, but don't turn your nose up just yet. He finished ahead of the other young stars in the AFC North - 2 points in front of Bengals QB Carson Palmer and way ahead of Roethlisberger, who apparently was having trouble lining up putts through that face mask.

Boller's shot of the tournament came on the par-5 18th hole in the second round. He hammered his drive 338 yards into the right rough, but it ended up behind one of the towering pines that make the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course one of the most beautiful in the world.

While he was deciding whether to lay up or make a risky play for the eagle opportunity, a fan ran up to the ropes and challenged him to go for it.

"You didn't come here to lay up," the guy yelled.

"You're right, I didn't," replied Boller, who pulled out a pitching wedge and masterfully curled a 163-yard shot right to the middle of the green.

I walked a couple of holes with Bob Boller, Kyle's father, who caddied for his son the first time Kyle took part in this event but seemed to be having more fun outside the ropes.

"I carried the bag for one round," he said. "That was enough."

This year, Kyle brought in a ringer from Baltimore - Caves Valley pro John Webster - to guide him through the three-round tournament.

They play some real golf at the top of the leader board, but the gallery was just as big at the other end, where Barkley and Chris Webber went mano-a-mano with a $50,000 charitable donation hanging in the balance.

If you watched any of the tournament on NBC, you already know that Barkley has one of the ugliest golf swings on the planet, but he made up for that by entertaining the crowd from start to finish.

Here's a sample of the non-stop repartee - this particular nugget coming after Webber lined his tee shot right into a tree trunk and ended up on the ladies tee:

"You know what's a shame," Barkley said. "This guy is beating me. He's 8 points ahead of me. How [bad] do I have to be for this guy to be beating me by 8 points?"

Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course has two holes that border one of the most scenic lakes in the world. Golf fans can pull up to the beach in their boats to watch play on the 17th and 18th holes, which led to the ESPN highlight of the tournament.

Actor Matthew Settle (Band of Brothers) hit a flyer that shattered the windshield on one of the boats, prompting fans the following day to back their boats up to the shore.

To each his own. While I was enjoying a few days of golf out west, actor Tom Hanks stopped by Camden Yards as part of a 50th birthday tour of all 30 major league ballparks.

I made the same tour, but it took me 28 years.

Negro leagues legend Buck O'Neil received two intentional walks during a minor league all-star game last night. The Kansas City T-Bones signed the 94-year-old to a one-day contract, making him the oldest professional baseball player in history pending the discovery of Julio Franco's real birth certificate.

This week's stolen headline from SportsPickle.com, the Maryland-based satire site on the Web: Golf Digest going to fix your slice if it takes them 100,000 issues.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

"The Peter Schmuck Show" airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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