Richest golf event
a potential ‘Wynner’

Sep 26, 2006 8:07 AM

Steve Wynn trumps E.F. Hutton in Las Vegas because when this gaming icon talks, a lot more people listen.

"George Will (political columnist) once said Las Vegas is the perfect democratic city. Here the rich and not so rich stand side by side to go head-to-head with Lady Luck. Plus, the gaming chip is much more reliable than the U.S. dollar."

Wynn will be putting $2 million on the line next year for "The Ultimate Game" — the richest golf tournament ever planned. FOX Sports makes its first endeavor into golf, televising the final two rounds over four hours Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10 on tape.

Why not live?

"Taping the event would be the best way to introduce the public to the format and the personalities who are playing," said Terry Jastrow, the pioneer executive producer of Monday Night Football and The Skins Game for ABC Sports. "This will be an original and compelling new golf concept."

Originally, Wynn was not interested.

"When I first heard about it, I wasn’t convinced it was right for Wynn Resorts," the chairman and CEO said during a news conference last week. "What hooked me was Terry’s presentation.

"The idea that a group of golf hustlers, hiding in the bushes with handicaps of 3 and under would blow their cover and play for the richest prize ever appealed to me. That’s what Las Vegas is all about, taking the great gamble."

Steve Bartkowski, ex-Atlanta Falcons quarterback and co-owner of Ultimate Game, said he has received a commitment from actor Jack Wagner, champion of the Celebrity Pro-Am at Lake Tahoe. Veteran LPGA member Laura Davies also expressed interest in playing since her current Tour ranking would allow her to enter.

"Call this institutionalized frivolity," Wynn quipped. "Let’s see how hustlers play on (Jack) Nicklaus’ turf. That excites me."