July 12 (UPI) -- Vinny Del Negro became the first basketball player to win the American Century Championship, with to clutch birdies to edge Atlanta Braves legend John Smoltz in the 2021 edition of the annual celebrity golf tournament.
The former NBA player and coach carded an even-par 72 over the final round Sunday at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Stateline, Nev. He birdied No. 18 to force a playoff with Smoltz. Del Negro dedicated the victory to his late father, Vincent, who died Wednesday in hospice.
"I lost my father this Wednesday, and I wanted to play well for him," Del Negro told reporters. "I thought of him the whole time; every fairway and every shot.
"What he would tell me: 'Toughen up. Hit the shot. You're either good enough or not. Just hit it.' And I stuck to my game plan."
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, the tournament favorite, finished third. Retired golfer Annika Sorenstam and actor Jack Wagner rounded out the Top 5. Defending champion Mardy Fish and Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry finished 7th and 9th, respectively.
"I put myself in really bad spots," Smoltz told reporters. "The only thing I could say is I grinded out the ability to get to the last hole because I had some very plugged lies, and I didn't play the type of golf you've got to play with a two-point lead."
Del Negro claimed $125,000 for the victory.