Marcus Allen, Mark Rypien to Compete in Diamond Resorts Golf

from Diego Isio

Greats of the gridiron and Super Bowl MVPs, country music superstars and PGA champions will be among those teeing it up at the newly-minted Diamond Resorts Invitational benefiting Florida Hospital for Children. Now part of the PGA TOUR Champions “Challenge Season” schedule, it is set for January 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, FL.

On a media conference call Wednesday (December 20) PGA TOUR Champion Grant Waite (Oklahoma Sooners), country music star and former Nationwide Tour and college golfer Colt Ford (Georgia Bulldogs), another country standout, the former Clemson football long-snapper Lee Brice (Clemson Tigers), Los Angeles Raiders Super Bowl XVIII MVP Marcus Allen (University of Southern California) and Washington Redskins Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien (Washington State Cougars) weighed in on the tourney and College Football Playoff (CFP) and college bowls season (Washington St. meets. Michigan St. Dec. 28 in Holiday Bowl and Southern Cal meets Ohio St. Dec. 29 in the Cotton Bowl).

The unprecedented format includes 27 PGA TOUR Champions, four LPGA stars (Brittany Lincicome, Paula Creamer, Brooke Henderson and Brittany Lang) plus 50 celebrities, including baseball greats Roger Clemens, Brian Urlacher, Justin Verlander, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Terry Francona among the top sports and entertainment golfers in America. PGA TOUR Champions and LPGA players competing for $750,000 and celebs for $500,000. The tournament has donated $2.3 million to Florida Hospital for Children since its inception as a weekend charity fundraiser in 2013.

The tournament will be televised live all three days on Golf Channel.

Some of the highlights of the conference call are below, including Rypien’s pick in the SEC Championship, Waite predicting that Tiger Woods will be a factor in the Masters, and more:

MARK RYPIEN: Everyone wants to know why Alabama and why don't we go to a 16‑team playoff. Does Alabama deserve to be in? Probably as much as any of the other 20 teams who had a chance. UCF (Central Florida) goes undefeated and they don't even get a sniff of a chance to play for the national championship.
My feeling is Georgia‑Alabama in the national championship game. I just think the SEC is that strong.
MARK RYPIEN: Boise State played a Power Five team in Oregon. They didn't have their running back, obviously, but Boise St. pretty much dominated that game last week in Las Vegas. Brett has won over 30 games in his first three years as a starter.
And I think he's maturing in a position where I don't think he's going to go for the draft. There are too many guys out there, and he needs to be on the national spotlight.
Next year Boise State plays against Oklahoma State in Stillwater and also has to go down and play Troy, who won 11 games this year.
So, I think sticking around another year is going to benefit him. He'll be in the national spotlight, especially if he plays well against some of the teams they need to play in order to get that power rating up. So I'm looking forward to him playing next year.
GRANT WAITE: Confidence is really an innate thing a lot of times, right? You can enhance it by how you play. But for Tiger to achieve the heights he did, he had that in him. It was part of his persona.
So what he needs to do is play to get the confidence in the various aspects of the game.
I think he just needs to play probably two, three, four events, kind of work through, see what comes up, deal with that and then he'll be good to go.
I think by the time the Masters comes around, if the (health issues) stay in chec,k he'll be a factor. He doesn't have the decided advantage that he used to have, because you've got guys like Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, guys like that who can flat out hit it far as he can. Before, he basically overpowered everybody.
Now he's going to have to use all his unique golf ability to kind of beat those guys rather than have that advantage. And I think that for the sake of the game it would be so great to see him at that level, and I think he can do it. He won't be dominant, but he will be a factor.
QUESTION: Marcus, I'm wondering what you think of the decisions that Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette made last year not to play their bowl games?
MARCUS ALLEN: I know that it's becoming an issue now. I think Royce Freeman didn't play recently for Oregon. What's interesting, it's not something that we thought about back then. Now, its a business decision. But we felt the need to play back in the day.
I don't know if these are decisions that are primarily made by the athlete or maybe perhaps their representation putting pressure on them to do so because of the amount of money. Obviously, it's a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity. You can't fault a person. I'd like to see guys play.
But then again I'm not in their situation. They have to make their own personal decision. I'm sure the Universities would like to see them play. And I'm sure the fans would like to see them play. But, again, it's something that I think it's an individual decision.
I don't want it to become sort of the standard. It's not something that I ever thought about – injury. I never played the game that way.
I went out there and played. And I always felt like every opportunity was an opportunity to be seen, was an interview, basically. And I always wanted to put on a great interview. So anytime you get an opportunity to do that I think it's smart. But today, guys have a different opinion.
MARCUS ALLEN: I think the Trojans beat Ohio State. I think it's going to be a great matchup. A lot of people think it's going to be one of the games most highly-viewed. We love competition. We love playing great Universities. I really feel like we have the team to do it. I think some people are picking Ohio State. I guess from an eye test standpoint they're looking at Ohio State as the better team, but I think we have what it takes to win.
He's (Sam Darnold) a unique talent. I think whatever decision he makes he has to make it for himself. I think there are a lot of people that certainly would like to see him come back. I think it's been brought up that it would be necessary for him to come back.
Some people are saying that he needs to play more games, I think some people look at Mark Sanchez as an example of somebody who was talented but needed more games. Experience is extremely valuable. But, again, you have to make (your own) decision.
You have to sit down with your family or your team and look at your prospects and look at who could possibly draft you, all those things make a big difference.
If it's staying at USC, that would be great. If it's moving forward, we'll be happy for him and support him.
MARK RYPIEN: Golf has opened a lot of doors for me. I used to be a hack. When I got to the Redskins, I played every day my first year there for 90 days, went from a 20‑plus handicap to a single digit in 90 days. We love any chance we can tee it up. And to do it with the pros? John Daly’s going to be playing with us next month. What an opportunity it is. It's just phenomenal.
Not only that, but what the Diamond Resorts Invitational is doing for the Florida Hospital for Children in January is just phenomenal.

MARCUS ALLEN: If you would have told me that I would have loved golf as much as I do when I was a young kid, I would have called you crazy. But I'm in love with the game, and last year I had an opportunity to play with Gil Morgan who was outstanding. Also, Scott Hoch, Olin Browne and Ian Woosnam. I learned so much from each of them.
It's one of the most unique golf events that I've ever been a part of and I'm really looking forward to this year.

GRANT WAITE: Normally we just play with other golfers, but at Diamond Resorts, we get to play with icons in different sports or entertainment, plus the LPGA players. It's unique competition. You've got LPGA players. You've got celebrities and you've got the PGA TOUR Champions players, all playing from the same tee.
The galleries are out there. All of the celebrities are great with interacting with the galleries. And it's a very different, unique, fun event with competition involved.
Last year I played with Sterling Sharpe, and I thought his game was really good. He talked about his past and what a great athlete he was when he was a track star and into football, and unfortunately, he got a couple of serious injuries. But he still plays an amazing game of golf.

QUESTION: Grant, what do you think: Would you rather win the Diamond Resorts Invitational or see Oklahoma win the national championship?
GRANT WAITE: That's a no‑brainer. I'm going to take the Diamond Resorts Invitational, right? But ‑‑ but there's some great teams in these final four games and the history of Oklahoma matches history anywhere else. Marcus talked about USC a little bit earlier. We have six Heisman trophy winners, seven national championships.
They are very proud in Oklahoma. They love the game. We've got a couple of wide receivers, we can run the ball. Offensively we'll score some points. It's going to be exciting. It's just whether or not we can hold Georgia.
I've watched every Oklahoma game this year and our offense is very, very difficult to defend because there's so many different ways that they attack. And Lincoln Riley is the youngest head coach and his offense is just very intricate. So Oklahoma is exciting to watch. But you're going to go up against a great defensive team in Georgia. I'm excited to watch it like everybody else. If they win it's great. But I'll take the Diamond Resorts Invitational every time. (from )

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