Ex-Yankees star David Wells recalls Charles Barkley prank as he readies for American Century Championship

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New York Yankees great David Wells will be one of the more than 80 competitors who will compete in the summer’s most prestigious celebrity golf tournament next month – the American Century Championship.

It’s the 35th time the event will take place. Golfers will begin practice at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in South Lake Tahoe on the border of California and Nevada on July 10. The 54-hole tournament runs through July 14.

Wells said it is his 17th appearance at the event.

“I wait all year for that event,” he told Fox News Digital in a recent interview. “That event is pretty special. To go up there in Tahoe, you just cross your fingers every year hoping that you get invited back, so that’s a good thing.”

Wells said he also enjoys the charity aspect of the tournament. The event has raised nearly $8 million for several nonprofits. The Stowers Institute for Medical Research is the tournament’s official charity. It was founded by James E. Stowers Jr., who is also the founder of American Century Investments.

And while the sun, the lake and the golf are all well and good, the competition is fierce.

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry won the event last year. Tony Romo, Vinny Del Negro, Mardy Fish, Mark Mulder and Mark Lemieux are among the other former champions as well.

Wells got a taste of Charles Barkley’s competitiveness when he made his first appearance at the American Century Championship.

Charles Barkley in 2022

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“My first year going and being invited and just going there and golfing with Charles Barkley,” Wells said as he recalled the memorable moment. “And Charles is such a wonderful human being, and he’s a good friend now and just playing with him.… But the gallery that he brought was pretty intense. And I was a little nervous and I didn’t want to really hit at certain times when there was people around.

“Then, all of a sudden, I think I had a par putt and he was a captain, and he goes, ‘Go ahead and pick that up, you’re good.’ So I go, ‘OK.’ And I picked it up and well I got penalized two points!”

Wells said he got the veteran hazing at that point, but he’s had a great time since. He did admit it is a bit more nerve-racking to have the gallery that close and eyeballing your every move. Not to mention, the other distractions of being at Lake Tahoe in the middle of summer.

“It’s a little more nerve-racking on the golf course,” Wells told Fox News Digital. “Especially on 17. You got all the boats, all the distractions, all the bikinis that are out there. You’re just hoping you don’t go over there and sign (autographs) and your girlfriend or wife happens to be walking with you and you don’t know it.”

The two-time World Series champion finished tied for 30th in 2023 and tied for 41st in 2022.

David Wells in 1998

The American Century Championship’s first round begins on July 12 and is broadcast on NBC Sports.

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