Tolliver leads American Century Celebrity Golf Championship

Updated: July 13, 2007, 8:52 PM ET
Associated Press

STATELINE, Nev. -- Billy Joe Tolliver didn't realize it was Friday the 13th when he followed a pair of bogeys with a 25-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole to take the first-round lead at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe.

"I wouldn't say I'm superstitious. I'd just say obsessive-compulsive," said Tolliver, the talkative former NFL quarterback who has won the 54-hole tourney twice before.

"I didn't even know what day it was. I've been on the road so long and staying so busy that I barely know what day it is ever and I certainly don't know the date," said Tolliver, who admitted he didn't get much sleep the night before at his hotel-casino across the street.

He had three birdies and three bogeys Friday to go with the eagle en route to a 2-under 70 that was worth 25 points in the modified Stableford system that puts a premium on birdies and eagles. An eagle is worth six points, birdie three, par one, bogey zero and double bogey or worse minus-2.

"I mean, I'm not Tiger Woods or anything. I know I'm going to have three or four bogeys a day," Tolliver said. "If I'd known it was Friday the 13th, I'd probably have played better today."

Sterling Sharpe, a five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver when he played for the Green Bay Packers, was worried about the way his day began but finished it tied for second with former NHL great Grant Fuhr with 24 points. It was Sharpe's best showing in his fifth trip to Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

"I woke up this morning and had no power in the casino. How many times has that happened?" Sharpe said. "And what I was supposed to wear today, I didn't wear, because it wasn't ironed. But Friday the 13th is working out good for me."

Another point back at 23 was a trio of past and present quarterbacks -- Chris Chandler, Trent Dilfer and Tommy Maddox.

Chandler, who passed for 28,484 yards in 17 seasons in the NFL, said he's not superstitious anymore.

"On Sundays I was, but not out here," he said.

Maddox isn't so sure.

"I worried about it for a second because I got stuck on 13 points for a long time and I was thinking maybe this is bad. But I'll take it now," he said.

Rick Rhoden, who has won the tourney a record six times, was tied with ex-quarterback Mark Rypien with 22 points. Defending champ Jack Wagner had 18 and four-time tourney winner Dan Quinn had 17. The three have accounted for five of the past six celebrity titles.

"On Sunday, they'll be there," Sharpe said. "It's like death and taxes. Rick is going to be there. Jack is going to be there. Dan's going to be there."

Fuhr, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003, had the best round of the day -- a 3-under 69 -- but didn't have an eagle.

"It's fun to be in contention. Obviously this would be a lot more fun if it was Sunday," the former goaltender said.

The field of 78 includes a variety of sports stars, entertainers and other celebrities.

Ray Romano, playing with former "Saturday Night Live" star Kevin Nealon, enjoyed a lucky break when his slice wide right of the par-4 ninth hit a Ponderosa pine in front of a greenside bunker and kicked directly in front of the green.

"My bad luck was drawing Nealon," Romano said.

Nealon, who was in second-to-last place with minus-27 points, wasn't as lucky. He hit three consecutive shots back and forth across that green into sand traps. He started by digging into the sand, approaching the ball and yelling "Fore!" before he swung.

The shot bounced off the grandstand and into the trap on the other side, where he again yelled "Fore!" before repeating the miscue back to the original bunker.

Nealon, who said before the tourney his goal was to finish in the middle of the pack, was followed by a group of friends and family members who wore bright orange T-shirts that read "Team Nealon" on the front and "It could happen..." on the back.

Chris Webber, who in past years has made a wager for charity with Charles Barkley about who would finish worse, pulled out of this year's event.

"Probably scared," said Barkley, in last place at minus-30.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press