Soap star Wagner to defend title in Tahoe

"I'll never be a great golfer, I'll never play on tour. But it's always something to challenge yourself and see how good you can actually get. Really, it's the most challenging sport I've ever participated in."

Rick Rhoden, the former major league pitcher who has won at Tahoe a record six times and is the 6-5 favorite to do it again this weekend, is back in the field after being ineligible last year because he had earned conditional status on the PGA Champions Tour.

Last week, he played in his third U.S. Senior Open, missing the cut by three strokes at Whistling Straits in Haven, Wis.

He'll challenge Wagner, who in addition to winning at Pebble Beach in 1991 has won six club championships at Bel Air Country Club in Los Angeles. He's finished in the Top 10 at Tahoe 13 times, including one second and two thirds.

"Last year is one of the years where I just held it together coming in, and previous years I haven't," Wagner said. "This golf tournament comes down to nerves because so many guys have short irons into a lot of these holes coming in and it's really about keeping your nerve on the greens. And last year I finally did it."

Like many an athlete, Wagner admits he's a bit superstitious.

"Those shorts I wore all week last year, I'm looking for them. They haven't been washed. They haven't been touched," he said.

Wagner is bringing back another good luck charm — his caddie, son Peter, 16, and said he may seek some advice from his girlfriend, Heather Locklear.

"Her greatest strength on the golf course is obviously wardrobe, which I try to work on myself," Wagner joked. "I've gone in her closet and found some things I like, but she doesn't think they will fit."

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