Mark Mulder is looking to reclaim his throne heading into the 30th American Century Championship.
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current broadcaster Tony Romo defeated Mulder — the three-time ACC winner from 2015-17 — in last year’s three-day tournament 71-68 on the modified Stableford scoring system. Mulder finished second after a ferocious comeback with 31 and 21 points over the last two days.
This time around, Mulder is taking a basic approach to the course, similar to his nine-year career as a starting pitcher with the Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals. He and Romo are tied as the favorites at 2-1 odds according to Caesars Entertainment.
“I’m not trying to redeem myself or anything but I left here (last year) with a bad taste in my mouth,” he said. “I feel way better about it this year. Coming in (last year), I wanted to set a scoring record and prove something, which was stupid and it didn’t work. …. I am trying to keep things real simple, the same way that I pitched.”
Mulder took the time out of his busy off-season to make a few changes back to his original form. He participated last October in the Safeway Open — a PGA Tour Event — in Napa, California.
“I’m hitting it real well,” he said. “I’m not a big guy who works on his game, but I am striking it better than last year. I was doing this swipe fade last year that was going nowhere and I’ve made that adjustment. I’m hitting the ball back to the way I’m capable of.
Romo posted scores of 18, 26 and 27 points over three days to clinch his first ACC championship last year. He won’t relinquish the title so easily coming off his Punta Cana tournament in the Dominican Republic this past March.
“I have to play well to win out here,” he said. “There isn’t two or three guys who are serious contenders anymore …. This game will humble you very quickly, it doesn’t matter who you are.”
Romo’s appearance in several professional golf qualifiers has taken his game to the next level. He’s paid close attention to detail heading into this year’s tournament.
“You just constantly get to a point where your weaknesses become strengths,” he said. “It’s a deliberate practice where I make it fit to me. It’s how I like to go about it and get to a point to play where I’m proud of. I feel ready to go.”
Mulder and Romo face plenty of competition heading into Friday. Mardy Fish is tied for fourth with Kyle Williams at 8-1 odds in the tournament. He placed fifth with 62 points at Edgewood last year.
“If I play this for 10 more years I’m gonna win it at some point,” Fish said. “Whether it’s this year or not I have no idea, but it’s going to be a good time.”
Fish was a victim of the fast-paced, unreadable greens. He’s adjusted his short game and got some extra strokes on the practice putting greens.
“This is the first time I’ve been able to spend some time on the greens,” he said. “This is the most playing I’ve had coming into this event. … I started back up again and I should be good to go.”
The American Century Championship runs from Friday through Sunday featuring 93 athletes, actors and entertainers. The event set an all-time attendance record of 57,097 during the three-day competition at Stateline, Nevada.