Mark Mulder didn’t have much fun the last couple of years at the American Century Championship without a full compliment of fans around. Now that it’s again full-on bedlam, the ex-big-league pitcher is feeding off the energy and hitting the ball farther than he ever has.
“I hit wedge on 17 and 18 from 190, and I won’t ever hit that club that far again. The vibe just creates so much adrenaline and the ball just goes,” Mulder said. Mulder sits atop the leaderboard after two rounds of the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course with 45 points.
2020 champion Mardy Fish will keep a close eye on him as he is also in the last group on Sunday at 42 points in the Modified Stableford scoring system where points are awarded for eagles (6), birdies (3), and pars (1).
Both Mulder and Fish leapfrogged the field with an eagle each on the back nine, adding six points to their total.
Mulder canned a 30-footer at the par five 16th hole, while Fish made the only eagle of the day at the closing 18th from about seven feet.
Mardy Fish said, “I was happy with the way I hit it. The greens are really, really tough to read especially in the afternoon with then Poa annua.”
Another former Major League pitcher, Derek Lowe, will join Fish and Mulder in the final group after posting a 22-point day to reach 38 points.
“Mulder and Fish, guys that have won this before are leading. They’re not going to be easy to beat, but hopefully we’ll have a chance,” Lowe said.
Tied with Lowe at 38 points after a blazing birdie-birdie-birdie finish is Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen.
Thielen said, “Yeah it definitely feels good to make some putts and finish the round. I feel like I lost some gas in the middle of the round, I feel like I do every year out here.
2018 and 2019 champion Tony Romo, and former Dallas Stars winger Mike Modano round out the penultimate group. Romo and Modano are tied for fifth place with 37 points.
Annika Sorenstam, who sputtered a bit on the back nine with bogeys at 13 and 14 and a very uncharacteristic double bogey on 17 to lose two points, also failed to birdie 18 after playing aggressively and hitting her second shot in the pond alongside the green. Her par, good for one point leaves her with 35 points and in a tie for seventh with former San Jose Shark and current Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski.
NBA star Steph Curry may be headed for a cold dip in Lake Tahoe after tomorrow’s final round if the usual Curry family bet is as usual. Curry, spotting his father Del a 12-point cushion on their total score for the tournament, actually trails the elder Curry by three points entering Sunday’s final round.
Curry has led some herculean comebacks in his NBA career. He’ll need another to avoid taking a swim while pops lights a cigar.
Charles Barkley continues his dogged pursuit of finishing in the top 70. Teeing off on Edgewood’s back nine Barkley, for him, was lighting it up with five bogeys, a par, and even a birdie at the par five 16th through his first seven holes. Charles had played so well to that point that he was actually plus four points for the round and minus six points for the tournament and comfortably within the top 70.
Terribly sad, that all changed once he reached the party on the shore of Lake Tahoe at the 17th hole, making double bogey six times in his last 12 holes to give back 12 points and finish T-71 at minus 18 points.
Barkley has a chance if he can find a way to avoid making four double bogeys or more. He made eight doubles in round one, and six more on Saturday. He should take some pride however, after knocking it on the green in two shots at the par five 16th that he beat both Mardy Fish, and Annika Sorenstam on the hole. Only tournament leader Mark Mulder beat Barkley with his eagle.
Sometimes you have to just take your victories where you can get them.