Mark Mulder is the best celebrity golfer on the planet.
The ex-big league pitcher proved it Sunday at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course by winning the American Century Championship for a record-setting third-straight time, riding one of the best shots of his life to the title.
After trading birdies on the first two holes with second-place finisher Derek Lowe, Mulder made what his caddie Kenny Overby described as “the best birdie I’ve ever seen” at the par 5 fourth hole. Lowe was on the green in two shots, and Mardy Fish, who finished in a second-place tie with Lowe, had a perfect lie in the greenside bunker, also in two shots. When Mulder arrived at his ball, he was dismayed to find a lie that he described as a “fried egg.” Neither of his opponents managed to make a birdie 4 from their positions, but Mulder pulled off a shot that amazed even him and drained the 5-footer.
“I think maybe at that time I was up just a point or two on D. Lowe,” he said. “To be able to get up and down and them not birdie the hole, it was a big momentum swing.”
Lowe was making the most of his somewhat surprising position in the final group, staying aggressive and hitting driver where Mulder would hit an iron or hybrid off the tee. It paid off with birdies at six and seven, and when Mulder bogeyed Hole 8, he found himself tied with the defending champ. They made the turn knotted at 60 points, with Fish and his balky putter fading, until Mulder took control with a birdie at the par-4,13th.
Lowe, who acknowledged his short game is his weakness, gave Mulder the lead for good by hitting consecutive fat wedge shots and making double bogey at the par-4 14th, while Mulder once again got up and down for par from a greenside bunker.
“My putter saved me all week,” Lowe said. “My short game is my weakest part. We saw it on 14. And at least I know what I have to work on.”
There is a basketball hoop to the right of the carnival atmosphere 17th tee. Players arrive there, hear the music, see all the partygoers and boats, and flip their caps around backwards to shoot a few baskets as the crowd cheers them on.
Mulder made his very first attempt with a clean swish and then decided rejecting shots at the rim, much like he did to the efforts of Derek Lowe and Mardy Fish on the golf course, was even more fun.
While he felt pretty secure after neither of his challengers failed to take advantage and close the gap after perfect tee shots at the par-5, 16th hole, his goaltending nearly cost him as he injured a finger horsing around.
“I got a little too giddy during the basketball shooting. And my caddie decides that — he shot a couple. He made one and then I jumped up and tried to block his shot. And what happens is my finger gets pinched between the rim and the ball. And it didn’t feel so hot. I’m not going to lie.”
His caddie secured a bandage, and Mulder stepped up and striped a shot right at the flag. But once Lowe failed to earn a point on the par 3, he knew he had the tournament won.
Notes: Steph Curry had the low round of the tournament Sunday with 28 points including an eagle at the par 5 finishing hole. “This is no exaggeration, this is the best complete round of my life. I think I am one off from my best score, but considering the environment, how terrible I played earlier in the week, and to finish like this was the definitely the best round of my life. To finish like that on 18 was really, really fun. I’m going to be bragging about that for a long time.”
Curry has accepted a somewhat controversial sponsor exemption into next month’s Web.com event in Northern California. “It is going to be a totally different environment, but hopefully I play like I did today and everything will be alright.”
The ACC set a new attendance record with 55,801, a 16 percent increase.
- American Century Championship
Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course
1 — Mark Mulder, $73
2t — Mardy Fish, 62
2t — Derek Lowe, 62
4 — Stephen Curry, 60
5 — Jeremy Roenick, 56
6t — Chad Pfeifer, 55
6t — Mike Modano, 55
8 — Aaron Rodgers, 53
9t — John Smoltz, 52
9t — Marshall Faulk, 52
9t — John Elway, 52
12t — Joe Pavelski, 51
12t — Blair O’Neal, 51
14 — Paige Spiranac, 50
15 — Colt Ford, 48