Brad Garrett of 'Raymond' fame finishes last
STATELINE, Nev. -- Billy Joe Tolliver, who blew a final-round lead last year, survived a wild driver and a trip to the beach down the stretch Sunday to win the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe.
Tolliver, a former NFL quarterback who won the event in 1996, appeared to have the tourney wrapped up before he drove wide right into a sandy waste area and then hit onto the beach bordering the lake on the par-5 18th.
But he took a drop from the hazard, chipped off a cart part and made a 5-foot putt for bogey to close with a 1-over par 73 and secure the $100,000 winner's check with a 76 points in the modified Stableford scoring system.
"I was lucky to get out of this alive today," Tolliver said.
"I'm a little bit devoid of talent so naturally I blocked it left onto the beach, where I always spend Sundays here. I've probably thrown away $300,000 to $400,000 on that beach. They ought to call it Joe's Beach," he said.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Trent Dilfer had the best round of the day at 2-under par 70 and finished second with 72 points in the 54-hole tourney.
Former pitcher Rick Rhoden, playing in the final group with Tolliver, had a chance to win for a record seventh time but missed a 25-foot eagle putt on the final hole and finished third with 71 points.
Chris Chandler was fourth with 69 points in the scoring system that awards six points for eagle, three for birdie, one for par, zero for bogey and minus two for double bogey.
It was the first time in five years that someone other than Rhoden or ex-NHL star Dan Quinn has won the 16-year-old tourney at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. Quinn won three of the last four and finished sixth on Sunday.
"I wish I had an excuse. I just didn't play well," Rhoden said. "I putted just absolutely terrible."
Tolliver said Rhoden would have won easily if a few putts would have dropped.
"Rick was probably a total of 3 inches from being 8 or 9 under. I just got lucky that the putter wasn't hot for him today," Tolliver said.
Tolliver, who still holds several passing records at Texas Tech, had three bogeys and three birdies on the front nine, including a 14-foot downhill birdie putt on the difficult 439-yard, par-4 ninth that put him five points ahead of Rhoden and Dilfer.
But he got into trouble on the par-5 16th when he drove into the left rough then hit his approach into a greenside bunker. He blasted out of the sand to 3 feet, but missed the birdie putt, setting up the dramatic finish.
Charles Barkley finished second-to-last in the field of 81 with minus 84 points, which means he'll have to pay $50,000 to a charity of Chris Webber's choice. Webber, who had minus 76 points, challenged him to the wager after he heard Barkley say Webber was so bad that he'd quit the game if he did worse than the NBA All-Star.
"It's been a tough day for me," said Barkley, who was among those who gambled and partied into the wee hours Sunday at the local casinos.
Others in the field and their finish included John Elway (22nd), Dan Quayle (32nd), Michael Jordan (36th), Donald Trump (42nd) and Don Cheadle and Kevin Nealon (tied for 75th).
Actor Brad Garrett finished last with minus 87 points. He and "Everybody Loves Raymond" co-star Ray Romano (60th) brought part of their comedy act to the course.
"I like when I play golf with him because I look better," Romano said.
The 6-foot-8 Garrett was sporting a Band-Aid on his forehead after he accidentally hit himself with his putter following a missed putt, but he claimed it was the result of poking fun at Barkley's swing.
"He got a little angry and he hit me with Chris Webber. That's how strong he is," he said.
Garrett pulled out a kayak paddle to hit his chip shot to the final hole and nearly knocked it in a greenside pond before resorting to a "foot wedge" to kick it back in play.
Romano then sank a 20-foot birdie putt from off the green and Garrett, who played Romano's under-appreciated big brother on the TV show, threw his hat on the ground in mock anger as the crowd cheered.
"Will it never end?" Garrett shouted.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press