How much did Charles Barkley bet on himself at celebrity golf? He reveals significant wager

Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley hits his tee shot on the 15th hole on Friday at the American Century Championships.

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Charles Barkley, on the par-4 6th at Edgewood Tahoe golf course, hit his 15-foot par putt about 14 feet and 11¾  inches. The NBA hall of famer slouched over, then took seven steps toward his ball, planted his feet and jumped straight up. Twice. His yellow ball maybe needed one more turn, and he’d tried to get it there. 

That inhale you hear is from the Edgewood Tahoe greenskeepers. That exhale is from the Nevada sportsbooks. 

Ahead of this week’s American Century Championship celebrity golf event, sportsbooks took bets on who might win. And a few posted a Barkley bet: Could the often critiqued but recently improved golfer finish in the top 70 in the 89-player field? When Barkley got wind of it about a month ago, he said: “Listen, man, I’m going to finish in the top 70. You need to put more than $100 on me. You need to let me know what casino that is, because I want some of that. I cannot wait now.”

Barkley would find that casino. He’d get some of that, too. 

On ESPN’s SportsCenter on Friday night, after anchor Stan Verrett reminded Barkley of the potential wager, Barkley said: “Well, I put $100,000 on myself, so I feel very confident.”

“Ohhhhhhh,” Verrett said. 

“I was gonna gamble anyway; might as well gamble on myself,” Barkley said. 

Ohhhhhhh is well said. Barkley would reveal that he made the bet at 5-1 odds, meaning that he’d win $500,000. It’d seem like a safe bet — for the house. While Barkley has noticeably improved recently, he had never posted better than a minus-12 in the modified Stableford format the event has used over the past 17 years, a stat originally reported by NBC’s Jimmy Roberts. During Friday’s first round, he shot a minus-16. 

On Saturday, he shot minus-5.

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After a par on the 16th (pars are worth a point in the scoring), Barkley was met by Golf Channel’s Damon Hack, who’d ask him two questions. Barkley would ask the third after seeing a graphic on the screen in front of him.

“So I’m 75th place, huh?” Barkley said on NBC. 

“You are, and as you said earlier this week, top 70, you have a wager, so what’s the mindset for the rest of the day and, of course, tomorrow to get the job done,” Hack asked. 

“Well, that’s a great question,” Barkley said. “I’m gonna be aggressive because I have an aggressive personality. I just want to play well for the last — we got like 11 more holes to go and see where I’m at at the end of the day. Hey, listen, if I’m right there and at 75 and I’m right there, I’m going for it.”

As it turns out, Barkley would finish Saturday 77th. Five players are between him and 70. Tied for 75th and two points ahead are former NFL player Charles Woodson and current player Kyle Rudolph. Tied for tied 73rd and three points ahead are former NFL players Mike Vrabel and Justin Tuck. Former major leaguer Jimmy Rollins is 72nd and six points ahead, and three players are tied for 69th, and seven points in front of Barkley. 

Can he do it? Barkley, for sure, knows he can. But maybe NBC analyst Peter Jacobsen answered that question best:

“There’s two things that he likes, Jimmy,” Jacobsen said on the broadcast to Roberts. 

“He likes golf, and he likes money.” 

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor