NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice Finishes Next to Last in Pro Golf Debut

Jerry Rice’s 17-over par in his professional golf debut tied him for next-to-last among the 151 players who finished two rounds of a Nationwide Tour event.

Rice, who holds the National Football League career record with 208 touchdowns, followed his 12-over 83 in yesterday’s first round with a 76 today in the Fresh Express Classic in Hayward, California, about 20 miles southeast of San Francisco.

Rice, who hoped to become the first professional from a different sport to reach the final rounds of a Nationwide Tour event, said he was disappointed at missing the cut by 19 shots.

“It’s just too bad I didn’t make it to the weekend,” he wrote in a blog for the PGA Tour’s Web site. “I had some killer clothes that I was going to wear.”

Rice, 47, who is hosting the Fresh Express Classic and received a sponsor’s exemption into the event, was the eighth athlete seeking to compete on the Nationwide Tour after winning fame in another sport. Earlier challengers included tennis’s Ivan Lendl and Brett Hull of the National Hockey League.

In 20 seasons as an NFL receiver, the first 16 with the San Francisco 49ers, Rice set NFL records by catching 197 touchdown passes and gaining 22,895 yards on receptions. He’ll be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.

Passion for Golf

Since retiring after the 2004 season, Rice has spent much of his free time on the golf course, indulging a passion he began while in the NFL. He took second place with partner Anna Trebunskaya on the television show “Dancing With the Stars” in 2006.

His debut on the Nationwide Tour, a step below the PGA Tour, ended with Rice 30 shots behind leader David Hearn of Canada.

Rice had four double bogeys, five bogeys and one birdie in the first round. Yesterday, in the second round, he recorded a 5-over score that included three birdies, three bogeys, one double-bogey, and a triple bogey on the par-4 10th hole.

“I am going to continue to work on my game,” Rice said in his blog. “I learned so much this week. The first day, I made rookie mistakes.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Gloster at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, California, at +1- rgloster@bloomberg.net

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