Jimmer Fredette’s legendary range will be put to the test this week, as he trades in his sneakers for a club in the 22nd Annual American Century Championship Golf Tournament at Lake Tahoe.
The star-studded event, which runs through Sunday, features more than 80 current and former professional athletes and other celebrities, including BYU alum and former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon and one-time Utah Jazz All-Star Deron Williams, now of the New Jersey Nets.
However, it’s longtime tournament attendee and legendary basketball player Michael Jordan that Fredette is most eager to see.
“Being a fan of basketball growing up, being able to meet [him was] a big dream of mine,” Fredette said in a media call on Tuesday. “He revolutionized the game in his day, and it will be unbelievable to meet him, and play golf with him.”
With former NBA All-Star Charles Barkley also hitting the links in Tahoe, Fredette said he’d love an opportunity to talk shop with two of his childhood heroes.
“[Jordan and Barkley] are two of the greatest players to ever play the game,” Fredette said. “It would be an honor to get to talk to them about the ins and outs of the NBA.”
However limited his experience with the NBA may be, golf is even more foreign to the upstate New Yorker.
“I have never played in a golf tournament like this,” Fredette said. “I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of pressure. Hitting in front of people is really different from just playing with your buddies. It’s a whole different dynamic.”
Fredette committed to playing in the tournament in April, months before he became a Sacramento King. He was the first college athlete to receive such an invitation, a fact that is not lost on him.
“I feel honored, to be here and to be able to play in a tournament with such prestige as this one,” Fredette said. “To be part of it is something special, and I recognize that.”
There wasn’t much time to prepare for the tournament leading up to the draft, but Fredette said he has tried to put in some time on the greens and fairways since then.
“In the last couple weeks, I’ve been able to get home, and I’ve played three or four times out there,” he said. “I’ve been working on my swing. I’m feeling a little bit better now.”
According to Harrahs & Harveys Lake Tahoe Sports Book, Fredette’s chances may not be as bad as he thinks. They have his odds of winning the tournament as high as 50-to-1, close to the 40-to-1 odds they placed on Jordan. Barkley, meanwhile, is the true long-shot at 500-to-1.
Even so, Fredette said he is not overly concerned about the outcome.
“This is my first time around, and these guys have been playing golf for a long time,” Fredette said. “I’m going up there to have fun, meet these guys, maybe make some relationships and just have a good time.”
Televised portions of the 54-hole tournament will be broadcast live by NBC Sports and VERSUS from Friday through Sunday.
Fredette heads to Tahoe on Thursday, but there are likely to be some Jimmer sightings in Utah County immediately following the tournament, as Fredette is hosting a sold-out shooting camp in Lehi next week.
In the meantime, he’s in Los Angeles for tonight’s ESPY awards (to be broadcast on ESPN at 7 p.m.), where he is nominated for “Best Male College Athlete.”