Like a fine wine, the American Century Championship is getting better with age.
The annual golf event, which draws current and former players in baseball, basketball, hockey and tennis, and entertainers, has drawn its biggest crowds in the last two years.
In 2016, the event drew more than 40,000, including a one-day record of more than 18,000. On Sunday, tournament officials said the attendance was 55,801, and they were treated to a record-setting performance by Mark Mulder, who became the first three-time winner of the event.
Mulder was asked in the interview room what the field would need to do to beat him. Rick Rhoden was an eight-time winner of the event, but he never won three in a row.
“Play better,” he said, as interview attendees laughed. “I mean, honestly, if I finish second three years in a row, that’s the way I’d look at it. That’s not to say anything against anyone who finished behind me. It’s just if I had that, if I finish second, third, fourth, fifth, whatever it was, I would walk out of this tournament going, ‘You know what, I need to play better.’ That is the way it is. That’s the truth.
“And, if they’re going to beat me, I’m going to be ready for it. And I hope they do. D (Derek) Lowe was someone that maybe no one expected to be there, but, man, he can flat out play.
“And, yeah, he didn’t hit the shots he wanted to on those last five, six holes, but he’s a really good player. There’s a lot more good players out here than what people think. I just happened to pull it off.”
The one area where people are going to have to get better is on the putting green. Mardy Fish is just as long as Mulder off the tee, but his putting woes from 2016 carried over to this year’s tournament. If Fish could putt, he could have seriously challenged Mulder on the final day.
Steph Curry is a guy to keep an eye on. He shot 28 on Sunday en route to a 68 and a fourth-place finish with 60 points. Players in the field marvel at his game. The Warriors’ superstar received an invite for an upcoming Web.com event, and it will be interesting to see how he stacks up.
“This is no exaggeration, this is the best complete round of my life,” he told NBC’s Charlie Rymer after the round. “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 definitely the best round of my life. To finish like that on 18 was really, really fun. I’m going to be bragging.
“It is going to be a totally different environment, but hopefully I play like I did today and everything will be all right.”
Several of the baseball players marveled at the performance of New York’s Aaron Judge in the Home Run Derby.
When I asked Mulder about Judge, the former A’s and Cardinals pitcher said he was most impressed with Judge’s power to the opposite field.
Nearly half of Judge’s homers that night were to right field, and I don’t remember many cheap ones. Many of the balls that cleared the fence in right landed well back in the bleachers.
The Carson Valley is losing one of the top administrators in high school sports.
After 13 years as athletic director at Douglas High School, Jeff Evans has resigned to take the principal’s job at Eureka High School.
Congrats Jeff and the best of luck.