Thursday, July 18, 2013

Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps Prepares for his First American Century Championship
South Shore, Lake Tahoe, Nev. – Michael Phelps stood on the tee at the par-3 164-yard seventh hole during Thursday’s practice round at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course and came up well short with his tee ball.

Photo of Michael Phelps by Jeff Bayer/American Century Championship

It didn’t matter. The large crowd cheered and chanted USA in recognition of the 18-time Olympic gold medal winner who is playing in his first American Century Championship, beginning Thursday.

“This is brutal,” said Phelps, who carries about an 18 handicap but has carded a few good rounds in the mid-80s this year. “I don’t understand how it can be that hard to hit this little tiny white ball and hit it straight every time. But, it just doesn’t happen for me.

“It’s been an eye-opening experience for me because I’ve usually been able to pick everything up fairly quickly. I have a goal of being a low handicap golfer. But for me to do that it’s going to take some time and it’s going to take a lot of frustration. But I’m going to stay with it”

And he is getting the help of famed teacher Hank Haney, who has instructed some of the world’s best, including 14-time major golf championship winner Tiger Woods.

In between shots, Phelps took time to tape a commercial for the U.S. Golf Association campaign against slow play and reiterated that he has no plans to swim competitively again.

 “There are no plans to head back to swim at Rio (in 2016),” said Phelps. “I did everything that I really wanted to do and that’s how I wanted to hang my suit up when I retired. I now enjoy just kind of being on my own schedule and being able to play golf whenever I and being able to travel whenever I want.”

The event will be televised by NBC Sports Network from 4-7 p.m. (EDT) on Friday and by NBC on Saturday and Sunday from 3-6 p.m. (EDT).

By Craig Smith, former director of media relations for the U.S. Golf Association.

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