Former champions Tony Romo and Mardy Fish are the 2022 favorites to win the American Century Championship next week with Stephen Curry, Annika Sorenstam and John Smoltz also among the contenders as the 33rd Annual celebrity golf competition returns for its national television showcase July 8-10 in Lake Tahoe.
The Caesars Sportsbook traders have pegged Romo, the CBS NFL analyst, and Fish, the former top-ranked American tennis player, as 11-4 co-favorites to win the three-day, 54-hole tournament featuring some 90 sports, entertainment and media stars competing for $600,000 in prize money at the lakeside Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in the scenic destination resort. FOX MLB analyst Smoltz is next at 9-2 followed by defending champion/former NBA head coach Vinny Del Negro at 5-1. Three-time champion/former MLB All-Star pitcher Mark Mulder follows at 13-2.
The top active pro athlete on the board is Golden State Warriors’ NBA Champion superstar Curry, who is listed at 12-1 alongside former Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Kyle Williams (also 12-1). Annika, the greatest player in the history of women’s golf, returns for her third run at the American Century Championship title and is listed at 17-2.
TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley, arguably the most popular player in the tournament every year, is a super long shot at 7,500-1 to win the tournament, but a proposition bet that he will finish in the top 70 has already attracted significant investment from bettors and is now listed at +280. That means that a “YES” bet of $100 on Barkley to finish in the top 70 of the scheduled 90-person field would deliver a payout of $280. Last year, the odds on Barkley to finish 70th or better were listed at +1600 or 16-1, so bettors are wagering this year on Barkley’s improved game, even though he finished 76th in Lake Tahoe last July.
GOLF Channel airs the tournament in primetime on Friday from 7:30-9:30 p.m. ET, and the coverage will livestream Friday on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app from 4-6 p.m. ET. Live coverage of the second and final round airs on NBC Saturday and Sunday from 2:30-6 p.m. ET. The tournament has raised over $6 million for charity over the years.
Other prominent players and their odds include Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (85-1), recording artist and actor Justin Timberlake (250-1), Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (500-1), model and social media influencer Paige Spiranac (500-1), Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel (1,000-1), NBC’s Today show meteorologist Dylan Dreyer (3,000-1), FOX NFL analyst and Good Morning America anchor Michael Strahan (5,000-1). Colin Jost (1,000-1), the Saturday Night Live cast member is among 13 newcomers to the field in 2022.
Romo won the American Century Championship in 2018 and 2019, immediately after retiring from football following three second place finishes during his active playing days. Fish, the U.S. Davis Cup Captain, took the title in 2020 and this past April topped Romo in a playoff at the Invited Celebrity Classic in Irving, Texas.
Both Romo and Smoltz have competed in PGA TOUR events against the best players in the world in addition to their annual battle to win the American Century Championship. Smoltz started five PGA TOUR Champions events (age 50 and above) last year and, in 2018, he qualified for and competed in the U.S. Senior Open, an accomplishment that stunned professional golf media experts.
Romo played in three PGA TOUR events in 2019, including the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas. Smoltz has twice won the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions celebrity tournament (2019-20) in Florida.
Fish is a three-time winner of that tournament in Orlando.