Mulder, Wagner tied for lead after ACC first round
ACC First Round Scoreboard
Mark Mulder 26
Jack Wagner 26
Billy Joe Tolliver 25
Josh Scobee 24
Mardy Fish 22
Eric Gagne 22
6 players at 21
STATELINE — Mark Mulder always seems to be on the cusp of contending for an American Century Championship title, as evidenced by three top-10 finishes in the last three years. This year, he hopes to break down the door and become a winner.
Mulder, the former left-handed pitcher with the Cardinals and Athletics, totaled 26 points Friday to share the first-round lead with two-time champion Jack Wagner on a pristine day at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
A stroke back at 25 points is Billy Joe Tolliver, and Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee is another point back at 24. Former tennis star Mardy Fish and former baseball great Eric Gagne are tied for fifth at 22 points. Rick Rhoden, the eight-time champion, is tied for sixth at 21 points along with former Green Bay Packers great Sterling Sharpe, ex-Atlanta Brave pitcher John Smoltz, former NBA head coach Vinny Del Negro, Chad Pfeifer and Rod Gorman.
“I’m pleased with it,” Mulder said. “I was looking for 20-something today instead of 15 or 16. I think I’ve started 23 or 24 before. I’m looking to win it. It will be disappointing if I don’t.”
Mulder credits his great round to excellent play on the front nine (his back nine). He birdied five of his final nine holes.
Wagner, the only wire-to-wire winner in tournament history (2011), said a first-hole birdie gave him a lot of confidence. His first tee shot landed in the left fairway bunker — he then blasted out to about 12 feet and then drained a downhill putt for a quick three points.
Wagner had four birdies (1, 9, 10 and 17) and 14 pars. He said course knowledge and patience are keys in this tournament.
“It’s a level of patience out here,” he said, “and that’s usually guys that are there Sunday, they’ve been able to scrape it around and grind it out enough.”
Tolliver, a four-time winner of the event, said despite his score he was up and down during his round.
“Twenty-five points to start the tournament off, I’m not disappointed,” Tolliver said. “I’ll sit in the clubhouse for the next two days if you’ll give me 25 each day and we’ll just see what happens at 75. The golf course is in great shape and the greens are really good. So I don’t know if 75 will get it, though.”
Tolliver, who estimated he made the turn in 32, made some good par putts that are like gold in the Stableford format. He had birdies at 4, 13, 15, 16 and 18. He also had three bogeys.
“But like I said, I got in a rhythm today and it was good,” Tolliver said. “I hit a lot of quality shots to start out with, and you learn something about yourself every time you pull a club back.”
Tolliver said he doesn’t worry about the competition after one day. He did say the fields are getting better and better every year.
“Well, you really don’t think too much about them on Friday,” he said. “You’re kind of sweating your own game, positioning yourself because you can’t win it on Friday but you can lose it. Just stay right in there and try to keep it bunched up.”
Scobee recorded five birdies en route to a solid start in his second ACC appearance. He had 20 points in last year’s opening round.
“Scobee is a heck of a player,” Tolliver said. “I’ve played a lot of golf with Scobee.”
Rhoden, after a slow start on the front side, scored 14 points on the back nine to get high on the leaderboard. Seven of his eight ACC wins have come in odd-numbered years, so he can’t be counted out yet.