Photo Credit: Doug Farrell - Bay Area Sports Drive
The battle for the title at the 2013 American Century Championship boiled down to a couple of former NFL quarterbacks on Sunday, as Billy Joe Tolliver won the event over Mark Rypien in a sudden-death playoff.
Day 3 Update: Sunday, July 21 at 6:45 p.m. ET by Jesse Reed
Both Rypien and Tolliver played well on Sunday, finishing their third rounds with 67 total points in the stableford-scored event, which led to a sudden-death playoff, as noted by NBC Sports:
TUNE IN ALERT: Sudden Death Playoff at the American Century Championship on NBC #ACCGolf— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) July 21, 2013
The two former teammates, as noted by ESNP's Mark May, needed three holes to decide the winner:
Congrats to Billy Joe Tolliver and Mark Rypien for making it a playoff in the American Century Championship both former teammates— Mark May (@mark_may) July 21, 2013
Tolliver outlasted Rypien on the third playoff hole, two-putting his way to the win after Rypien hit his third shot into the water.
It was Tolliver's fourth career victory at the American Century Championship, while Rypien finished in second place for the second straight year.
Former MLB pitcher and current ESPN analyst Mark Mulder posted the most impressive score in the final round. With six birdies, two bogeys and 10 pars on the day, he scored 28 points to move up the board and finish in sole possession of third place with 66 total points.
Here is a quick look at the final leaderboard, per scoring.r2it.com:
|1||Billy Joe Tolliver||67|
Former NFL quarterbacks are a yearly fixture on the leaderboard at the ACC, and this year was no different. In addition to the overtime battle involving Rypien and Tolliver, Chris Chandler and John Elway both made it into the top 10 with strong final-round performances.
Golden State Warriors star point guard Steph Curry, who led the tournament after two rounds, really struggled through the second half of his final round. With two birdies and five bogeys, he managed just 17 points on the day to finish in a tie for fourth place with Chandler.
Former NHL fan favorite Jeremy Roenick was the lone hockey player on the leaderboard this year. After finishing the second round in position to win the tournament, however, he took a step backwards with a relatively low score of 15 on Sunday.
Two former MLB pitching greats, John Smoltz and Rick Rhoden, rounded out the top 10.
Day 2 Update: Saturday, July 20 at 6:14 p.m. by Tyler Conway
Playing in the stableford-scoring event, the Warriors guard went out and carded his second straight fine day of golf at Edgewood Golf Club. Following his even-par score of 72 in Friday's first 18 holes, Curry bettered himself with a two-under 72 a day later.
That was good for a 25 stableford points—a modified version of golf scoring that allows for more sightly scores than the ones these celebrities are putting up—which was tied for the best on the day with former NFL quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver for the best on the day.
Heck, Steph even broke the NFL Big Break sign on his first swing:
With just 18 holes to play, Curry has a one-point lead over former NFL quarterback Chris Chandler (you'll sense a theme here) and former NHLer Jeremy Roenick, who both have 46 points. Round 1 leader Mark Rypien came back to the pack a little bit Saturday, falling to a fourth-place standing with 45 points.
Here is a quick look at the players in contention heading into Sunday's final round, per scoring.r2it.com:
|5||Billy Joe Tolliver||42|
Curry, who is a 2-handicap, started his day with five straight pars (worth one point apiece) before tallying his first birdie on the par-four sixth. He coughed that stroke back up on the ninth to take the turn at even-par 36, but then put on the jets for a scintillating run that made him almost look like he could fit in at Muirfield, this week's host for the British Open.
A breakout star during this year's NBA playoffs, Curry had to feel much like he did then on holes No. 11 through No. 16—he couldn't miss. Curry carded an impressive four birdies during that stretch, taking a commanding lead that could have been greater had he not gone bogey-bogey to finish.
Still, it's hard to see anyone topping the Warriors guard if he does this well again Sunday. Curry previously entered the ACC in 2010, finishing in a tie for 28th.
Elsewhere on the leaderboard, it was again another good day for quarterbacks and pitchers. Chandler, Tolliver and Rypien join John Elway as the former signal-callers in the top six. Going back a few paces, Trent Dilfer (33 points) and Joe Theismann (32 points) are both having fine outings.
ACC stalwart Rick Rhoden, former A's pitcher Mark Molder and former Braves great John Smoltz represent the pitching constituency in the top-10. David Wells faltered a bit with only seven points Saturday after a strong Friday afternoon, while Derek Lowe had the opposite result, with 21 points today.
Working your way down the leaderboard, one thing becomes clear—Larry the Cable Guy should stick to comedy and hosting shows on the History Channel. The Blue Collar Comedy star is in last place with -54 points, seven points behind second-worst Trent Green, who proves not all NFL QBs can swing a golf club.
The players will have one last day in Tahoe Sunday afternoon.
Rypien threw for three touchdowns and also got two field goals while charging to the top of the leaderboard with 27 points. Wait, I'm getting my sports confused. Rypien did tally 27 points, but he did so on the strength of an eagle and three birdies.
This tournament runs on the Stableford scoring format and awards 10 points for a double eagle, eight points for a hole in one, six points for an eagle, three points for a birdie, one for a par, none for a bogey and minus two points for everything worse.
Take a look at the leaders below, or view the full leaderboard at scoring.r2it.com:
Rypien came out with a hot hand to start his round. He carded 19 points on the front side. However, the 50-year-old sounds less than optimistic about his chances of winning. The Associated Press passed along this quote from Rypien: "The fountain of youth is not in my favor, but I think I am playing better golf now than when I first came out here."
As the Golf Channel points out, he has a reason to be playing better golf now.
Actor Lucas Black, who played Pee Wee Reese in 42, is the lone non-athlete in the top 10, and he posted a strong round, carding 25 points.
Moving down the list, it quickly becomes clear that ex-pitchers and quarterbacks are great at golf. I have no idea why this is, considering both made their professional careers based on their ability to throw and not hit.
In fact, pitchers are typically far worse at hitting objects than their teammates.
However, the fine play of David Wells, Rick Rhoden and John Smoltz shows us they do alright when the ball isn't moving.
Rhoden, of course, is on another level. He once qualified for the U.S. Senior Open and has dominated celebrity events. He's proving now, even at age 60, that he can still hang with the best celebrities.
Meanwhile, former hockey player and accomplished celebrity golfer Dan Quinn is back to defend his title at this event. However, his bid got off to a rough start. The five-time winner only earned 13 points in his opening round.