Jerry Rice set to play at Fresh Express Classic on Nationwide Tour
The Nationwide Tour isn’t on the radar for many golf fans. I’ll casually watch the coverage on The Golf Channel, more to get a glimpse of the courses than the players.
The course in Hayward, Calif., is on a spectacular site on an East Bay hillside, overlooking San Francisco Bay. But the David McLay Kidd layout won’t be the only star of the telecast.
The tournament will be the professional debut of NFL legend Jerry Rice, a member of the club who has received a sponsors exemption to tee it up. His Jerry Rice 127 Foundation will receive charitable funds from the tournament as well.
Rice, a plus-one handicap who finished 10th in last year’s Celebrity Classic in Lake Tahoe, must be considered one of the greatest athletes on the history of the planet. He holds the NFL records for most TD receptions (197) and total TDs (208), and his 22,895 receiving yards is nearly 8,000 more than the next closest player (former Raider Tim Brown). And he nearly won Dancing with the Stars, too!
“I have a tremendous respect for professional golfers and an appreciation of the Nationwide Tour, because of the way it provides aspiring golfers a chance to pursue their careers,” Rice said in a statement. “Also, I am excited for the opportunity to play in the tournament and experience that level of competition.”
I was disappointed I didn’t get a glimpse of Rice when I played the course last fall. A member I met said he played with Rice recently, and mentioned that he was the nicest guy, not arrogant at all.
The same can’t be said of the course. It can be cruel at times if you don’t execute the shots it requires. The hills create some wonderful elevation changes and views, but serve up some tough sidehill and downhill lies. The greens are just as topsy-turvy. Some of the toughest holes either border small arroyos or play over them.
The Golf Channel is expected to show all four tournament rounds live, from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 6:30-9:30 p.m. on the weekend (all Eastern Standard Times). Check out pgatour.com for more information. Even if Rice misses the cut, it should be a good show on a great course.
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