STATELINE — Mark Mulder didn’t get to hoist the trophy this year, but he sure finished like a champion.
The former MLB pitcher played out of his mind on Sunday. He went from eighth place, 38 points, to one point shy of the title playoffs. The 28 points he posted on Sunday was the highest single-day score from any golfer in this year’s American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
Mulder finished with 66, one par short of the championship playoffs between new champion, Billy Joe Tolliver, and runner up Mark Rypien who both finished with 67.
Mulder had 16 of his 28 points on the front nine. He birdied four of those nine holes and parred another four. Golfers received one point for pars and three for birdies in the tournament’s Stableford format.
When Mulder finished 17 he had added another six pars and a birdie to raise his score to 63. Rypien, however, was approaching 18 with a score of 66. Mulder would need a spectacular finish to stand a chance.
As he walked off 17 a spectator yelled, “Do good on 18 Mulder. I’m rooting for you.” Mulder nodded his head in acknowledgment and then made good on that request. He blasted a birdie on the final hole, a par 5, for three more points to briefly tie Rypien.
For that one moment Mulder was leading them all.
Puig, Harper or Trout?
Obviously it’s hard to go wrong with any of those guys.
“I love to see Harper, I love to see Trout and Puig,” Joe Carter said. “Those are guys who play with heart. They have a lot of fun. They’re playing the game the right and I like that about them.”
But if Carter were a manager and had a chance to take just one of those guys, he would pick Puig.
Mark Mulder threw a fourth name into the mix. He would take Manny Machado.
“Honestly between all three of those guys, Harper and Trout are a little more advanced than Machado at this moment, but some of the things that Machado is doing defensively,” Mulder said. “I mean he plays third base and he might be the best shortstop in baseball.”
Does a guy like Machado mean more wins in the long run? Mulder thinks so, especially coming from a ground-ball pitcher’s perspective.
“I think an infielder influences the game more than an outfielder,” Mulder said. “But the things that these guys are doing at 20 years old is crazy.”
As a follow up, what young pitcher does Mulder like to watch?
“I like seeing (Patrick) Corbin with the Dbacks just because I live in Scottsdale and I see him a little bit more, but (Matt) Harvey and Shelby Miller,” Mulder said. “Harvey, for as young as he is with the Mets, is so impressive to be able to command all four pitches the way that he does, and the way that he handles himself. You don’t often see young guys like that be able to dominant and do what he’s doing.”
Whittell student awarded Upshaw Scholarship
Whittell student Jenny Shepack assumed the worst when she came off the soccer field to a voicemail from her dad saying she needed to call home.
“The first thing I thought was it was bad news,” Shepack said.
That fear, however, quickly turned to disbelief when she discovered she had won the Gene Upshaw Scholarship.
“I didn’t think I was going to win it, and it was like a week before so I figured someone else had already won it,” Shepack said.
Nope, it was just Shepack who was awarded the fourth annual Gene Upshaw Scholarship Award at this year’s American Century Championship.
Initiated in memory of NFL Hall of Famer and longtime NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw, the scholarship is valued at $5,000. The scholarship is awarded to individuals who show strong leadership, community service, and academic excellence.
“It’s such an honor to be linked with Mr. Upshaw. He was an amazing player and really played for the team,” Shepack said. “He wasn’t just all about himself. He was very selfless, and not just on the field but off the field. And I just want to strive to be like that.”
Shepack is already well on her way. She was a straight A student, scored a 1630 on the SATs and was a standout soccer and basketball player all in her junior year.
Terri Upshaw, Gene’s widow, was at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course to present Shepack with the award.
“Gene would be extremely proud to have his named linked to this scholarship,” said Mrs. Upshaw. “Gene was not just about accomplishments, not for himself at all, it was about those around him, for the betterment of the game and families.”
Heard on the course
Michael Phelps on the NBC broadcast crew… “Maybe I should get back in the pool after how bad I did today. It is a lot easier to swim than golf. The biggest thing about golf that I want to do is I want to be able to compete. I have friends who are scratch golfers, and I’m a very competitive person. It is not fun going out there and getting absolutely tortured every single hole. So, this is something that will take a lot of time and a lot of work, and it is something that I am looking forward to doing.”
Kelly Slater wasn’t going to sweat the championship round. As the afternoon approached its hottest point, the pro surfer popped of his shirt while watching the playoffs. “Hey, if I have to wear pants I’m at least going to take my shirt off,” he said.
NOTES: This year’s attendance numbers range in at 38,652, the third best of all time. The numbers are slightly down from last year’s 40,445 spectators.