Rypien roars into lead
STATELINE — Mark Rypien won the inaugural American Century Championship back in 1990, and after Friday’s 27-point first-round outburst at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, he’s put himself in great position for a second victory.
Rypien leads the 24th annual ACC by two shots over actor Lucas Black (“42,” “Fast & Furious III” and “Friday Night Lights”). Chris Chandler, the 2007 winner, is in third with 24 points followed by Jeremy Roenick, Steph Curry and John Elway, all with 22. David Wells is seventh at 21 followed by eight-time champ Rick Rhoden at 19. John Smoltz and Trent Dilfer round out the top 10 with 18 points apiece.
Rypien, who started on the back nine, recorded an eagle, three birdies, two bogeys and 12 pars. He was a model of consistency. Since winning in 1990, Rypien has eight top-10s in the event.
“It’s always good to be in the hunt, and this year is no exception,” Rypien said. “I look forward to the challenge. It was nice to see Lucas (Black) play well. It’s a new face. We all know he’s got a great golf swing. He’s probably got a much better golf swing than most of the guys out here. It will be nice to play with him (today). Chris (Chandler) had it going for a while there, too, and made a double on (hole) 8 I think.
“A lot of those top-10s have been in the last five years. I wouldn’t say I’m like a great bottle of wine where I get better with age, but I think I learned a little bit more about my golf game. I get a chance to play a little more. My foundation allows that to raise money. We do a lot of golf events, and I reciprocate a lot so I get to play a lot of golf during the year.”
Rypien started fast, recording birdies on Nos. 10 and 14, and eagling No. 16 when he hit a 5-iron to 4 feet.
“I hit eight of nine greens on my front side,” Rypien said. “I had a 4-footer for birdie on No. 11 and missed it. The only green I missed was No. 12 and I bogeyed there. I made a nice putt at 14 from 25 feet. I hit a 240-yard hybrid to about 8 feet at No. 16 and made it for eagle.
“I shot a 32 on my front. I had 19 points which was pretty good. I don’t think I’ve ever come in with anything over 15 in nine holes here.”
Rypien had eight pars on his back nine (the front side), but claims he didn’t get conservative.
“No,” Rypien said. “I’m still shooting to knock them on in 2. I stayed aggressive and went driver (on the par-4s and 5s). I think that’s going to be my philosophy all week. I’ll take driver out every hole.”
Rypien said it will take at least 70 points to win it.
“You gotta get in the 70s to win this thing,” he said. “If I get another good day (today), 20 or above and finish with something in the 20s the last day and post a number, I think that’s got a chance. It’s so fun to be competitive again.”
One guy who wasn’t surprised by Rypien’s performance was Chandler.
“Not one bit,” Chandler said. “He’s one of my all-time favorite guys, and it will be great to play with him (today). If he put up 27 points, he probably could have had 32 or 33.
“Ryp has a gorgeous power fade and he just hits it good. And he can putt and really happy to see him play well.”
Black recorded an eagle, three birdies, 10 pars and four bogeys on what was his best round in his brief ACC history. Black played in 2007 and 2008, recording 34 points each year. His previous best round was 16 points in the final round of the 2007 event.
“You always want to see your name up there (at the top of the leaderboard),” Black said. “I’m playing to see my name up there. That’s what we’re all out here for. Everybody is a competitor out here. I feel pretty good. I take it one step at a time and try to get as many birdies as I can. I’m excited. You can’t win it on the first day but you can lose it and I’m happy to be in contention.”
Black was at 2 through three holes, but he shot up to 8 with an eagle at the par-5 520-yard 5th. He reached the green with a driver and 5-iron, and then drained a 27-footer.
Black, who appeared in the movie “42” this past spring, added four more points on the front side to finish with 12. He got up to 17 with a birdie on No. 10 and pars on Nos. 11 and 12. After back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14, he birdied 15 and 16 to get to 23. He finished the round with pars on 17 and 18.
Chandler, who started on the back nine, played a solid round despite two double-bogeys over his final four holes. He recorded an eagle and four birdies on the day.
Chandler recorded 14 points on his first nine holes thanks to birdies on Nos. 11, 14 and 18 plus six pars. He got up to 19 with a birdie on No. 1 and pars on the next two holes. A 5-iron to the par-5 4th netted him six points and pushed him to 25. After a par on No. 5, he doubled No. 6.
“It was great, really good start to finish,” Chandler said. “I drove the ball really, really well. I hit a great drive on 6, which was my, what, 15th hole, kind of got in between clubs and got lazy on a wedge and chunked it into the water.
“I was at 26 points at that point. I’m like thinking I could get 35. I started getting ahead of myself and just made a poor club selection, and on top of that, even a worse swing. And it’s funny, when something like that happens, how mentally you kind of just — the red wire touches the green wire and you can’t even feel your hands anymore. But I hung in there and kind of scratched it in. But I played really well.”
Chandler admitted he left some putts on the course.
“I had some like 15‑footers downhill that I just couldn’t get after it like 8‑, 10‑footers and I just left them a little short,” Chandler said. “I played really well and it was super fun.”
The featured threesome of five-time winner and defending champ Dan Quinn, two-time winner Jack Wagner and three-time winner Billy Joe Tolliver played just OK Friday. Quinn struggled with 13, Tolliver had 17 and Wagner managed just 10.
Quinn started with a double bogey after hitting into the hazard on No. 1. He recorded three straight pars to get back to red numbers at 1. After a bogey on No. 5, he parred the next four holes to finish with five points on the front. He had a bogey and eight pars on the back.
Wagner had nine points through seven holes thanks to a birdie and six pars, but double bogeys at Nos. 8, 10 and 13 hurt immensely. He had just one birdie on the day.
“I was playing well (through seven),” Wagner said. “I hit a couple of bad shots and never recovered. I’m just trying to stay focused.”
Tolliver had eight pars and a birdie on the front. He struggled a bit on the back with three bogeys.
NOTES: The field averaged 82.7 for the day … There were 121 birdies and four eagles with 482 bogeys and 279 double-bogeys.
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