Reigning World champion and current No. 1 ranked World Long Drive competitor Justin James is set to defend one of his 2017 titles later this week, at the Bash for Cash in Port Rowan, Ont., Canada. To no surprise, most of James’ attention at this stage of the season is on putting himself in position to claim the world champion belt this September for the second time in as many years.
However, later this month James will take part in a special opportunity that will force him to put his world championship title defense preparation on hold, if only for a few days. Next week, he’ll tee it up amongst a field of celebrities competing in the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe. Entering its 29th year, the tournament is a made-for-TV celebrity golf event airing live on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and NBC, Friday-Sunday, July 13-15.
“I try to play a round of golf once a week,” James said. “Sometimes it’s not even 18 holes. Just to get out on the course and work on my drives and hit some irons and wedges. I just keep telling myself ‘we’re just going there to have fun and not let expectations get too high.’ Hopefully I drive a few greens and makes some birdies along the way.”
A few weeks removed from winning the Volvik World Long Drive Championship last fall, James received a surprise invitation during a phone call as part of a live studio segment on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive. On the other end of the line was former Major League Baseball all-star pitcher and World Series champion Mark Mulder, who also is a three-time champion of the American Century Championship. In addition to Mulder, other celebrities committed to take part in the event include Stephen Curry, Larry Fitzgerald, Charles Barkley and Aaron Rodgers.
“I think the closest thing to this for me is playing in the Tim Tebow Foundation event,” James said. “So it’s going to be new and hopefully the goal is just to have fun that week. I don’t really know what to expect.”
The tournament is a 54-hole modified Stableford format being staged at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, set along the scenic south shore of Lake Tahoe.
“I think there’s a lot to learn from all these exceptional and extraordinary people,” James said. “I enjoy being around successful people and hopefully being around those guys for a week, I’ll be able to pick their brains and see what makes them tick. I like to observe people’s habits and you can really learn a lot from seeing how people handle themselves.”
Before traveling to Lake Tahoe, James’ attention will turn to defending his Bash for Cash title at the Tour event taking place this Sunday, July 8, where he’ll look to claim his first victory of the 2018 season.
“Certainly gives me confidence having won [the event] before, but at the same time it’s a new year,” James said. “Anybody can get hot in one of these events, so you’ve got to stay on your toes and know anything can happen.”
By: Luke Halgerson