Oddsmakers are giving Charles Barkley a shot to win this week’s American Century celebrity golf tournament — a 6,000-to-1 shot.
Barkley has the longest odds in the field for the annual tournament, which begins Friday in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder, the three-time defending tournament champion, is the favorite at 8-5, followed by ex-Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo at 2-1.
The course at Edgewood Tahoe South hasn’t suited Barkley’s game in the past. He has finished last six times in his 22 appearances, including last year.
“I’ve heard a rumor that [Barkley] is actually playing all right, right now,” Mulder told the Reno Gazette Journal. “I don’t know if there’s any truth to it. But we’ll see.”
The Basketball Hall of Famer, who has a one-of-a-kind golf swing, has attracted some interest at the betting windows. As of Wednesday at Harveys Lake Tahoe Hotel and Casino, a “handful” of bets had been placed on Barkley at 6,000-1.
The wagers were “small” and like “souvenirs,” said Harveys sportsbook manager Dave Cudney, who has been booking the event since the mid-1990s.
“They usually are laughing when they’re making the bets,” Cudney said. “We all laugh.”
One oddsmaker told ESPN that it is impossible to define Barkley’s true odds, adding that his only chance of winning the tournament is “if all other players withdraw after teeing off.”
The bigger money was backing Romo, including a $9,000 bet on the current CBS broadcaster that was placed Wednesday and improved his odds from 4-1 to 2-1. Cudney said it’s not unusual for there to be bets in the $10,000 range on the tournament, adding that the bulk of the wagers come in Thursday.
Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is 15-1 and had attracted more bets than any other golfer at Harveys. Romo was second in number of bets, followed by former MLB pitcher John Smoltz, who is 10-1.
Broadcaster Al Michaels is listed just ahead of Barkley at 5,000-1, the same odds that Leicester City had to win the Premier League before their storybook 2015-16 championship season.