Barkley considers playing lefty at Tahoe event

Charles Barkley during the 2009 Lake Tahoe celebrity golf outing.

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RENO, Nev. – It’s hard to tell sometimes when Charles Barkley is joking, but it’s also hard to watch him play golf.

So, there’s a decent chance the NBA Hall of Famer-turned-TNT analyst wasn’t kidding when he told reporters on Thursday that he’s seriously considering playing left-handed next month at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe.

“It can’t be worse,” Barkley said. “It’s not like I’m kicking (butt) right-handed.”

Known for the hitch in his stop-and-go swing, Barkley often has finished last in the 16 years he’s played in the 54-hole tourney at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. This year, the casino sports books have made him a 500-1 longshot.

“I’m considering it. I’ve been talking about it for years,” Barkley said about the possibility of moving over to the other side of the ball.

Barkley, an 11-time NBA All-Star who retired in 1999, said he has never played a whole round of golf left-handed, but has hit some shots that way at the encouragement of Hank Haney. Haney is a former swing coach for Tiger Woods who made Barkley the first star of the “The Haney Project” when it debuted on the Golf Channel in 2009.

“Last year was the first year that I tried to play lefty,” Barkley said Thursday during a teleconference promoting the July 15-17 celebrity event.

“I’ve got a great new respect for anybody that’s left-handed. If you can do anything left-handed, you’re my new hero. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he said.

“But the one thing it does, to be honest with you, I don’t get nervous and afraid on my way to the golf course. When I play right-handed, clearly the hitch and everything drives me nuts.

“I have no idea if I’m going to top it or shank it or whatever. So I get really nervous and agitated going to the golf course,” he said. “Even though I suck left-handed, it does free my mind up, and I don’t hitch.”

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