July 23, 2016
THE MODERATOR: Okay, Jack, let's start with you. You are at 48 points after two rounds, two points back. Go through the round today for us.
JACK WAGNER: I started each day out kind of shaky, just not, just made a couple of bad swings early and made a few bogeys, and yesterday I made some pretty incredible par putt saves. That kind of got my round catapulted and really moving forward. And today was more of like one of those hang-on days. I never hit it really close.
My ball-striking was pretty average. I got up-and-down a lot of times. So I just basically had a 3 bogey 3 birdie day. I shot even par. So when you have one of those days, you just try to grind it out and stay in the hunt. So that's what today was for me.
Yesterday it was a lot easier round of golf for me once I got past a few par putts. That's kind of what it was for me.
THE MODERATOR: Mark, how about you, 22 points today for a total of 45? Pretty consistent. And representing yourself well as defending champion. Take us through your round.
MARK MULDER: For me, today was kind of a grind. I thought I hit the ball outstanding until we got to about hole -- I had two bad tee shots on 14 and 15. But for the most part I hit the ball so good and had a ton of 10-footers for birdie and made nothing.
I birdied 4 and 8 and then 18. And honestly I could have put up a really good number today had I not putted the way that I, like an amateur.
But that's what we are, and I was trying to stay patient the whole day, and I kept telling my caddie that same thing, because sometimes I get a little frustrated when I hit it close like that and don't make anything.
And today was one of those days. I just had to stay patient. I finally birdied 18, hit one close, and it could have been a very good day, but overall, I'm not upset with it.
The conditions are not easy, the greens are not easy. The greens are in incredible shape. And I think that's why I'm putting the way I'm putting because I'm just a little tentative on these greens.
Q. Going into tomorrow, you've got -- Jack here, you're two back; Mark, you're only five. So there's a lot of guys at the top of the board here. There's guys within seven points, six or seven guys within seven points. So what do you think it's going to take?
MARK MULDER: I said from the beginning, low to mid 70s I thought would win this. And we're kind of on pace for that. All I know is -- you say I'm five back? Well, that's what I was last year. I'm cool with being in that same spot.
I have no problem with that. You got to come out and make birdies. And tomorrow is another day. If I hit it like I did today, I'll be just fine. I just need to make a few more putts than I did today.
Q. You guys have each won. Mardy Fish has not, at least not here. What would you expect from him tomorrow, first time in what everybody calls kind of the Masters of the Celebrity Tour?
JACK WAGNER: I think Mardy won it, in Florida, running away. I play with Mardy at Belleair Country Club. We're members there. We've been battling it out there for a few years. And Mardy, we were talking about Mardy earlier. He's sort of like a .Com player, Web.com player. He has a beautiful golf swing.
If he putts well, there's no reason why he shouldn't shoot in the 60s every day. He just has a beautiful golf game and he's a really great golfer.
So I imagine it will up to his putting. As far as Mark and I having won before, I think that has value. It does. I think you really have to hold your nerve when it comes down to -- I've said this for 27 years -- we're not used to making three-, four- and five-footers on television with thousands of people watching.
So that's really what it comes down to, I think. I think we all hit the ball pretty well, and we all kind of grind it out equally.
But it's going to be about who can really make their putts.
MARK MULDER: I think he's going to be okay. He won that tournament this winter, has a great game. I played with him yesterday. Both of us could have had around 30 points yesterday had we putted a little better.
And I know for me personally it took me probably three years or so to get really comfortable with this tournament and with the fans and hitting shots on TV.
It's not what any of us really do for a living. So that was an adjustment. And I think this is either his third or fourth year playing in this. So it's kind of that learning curve, I guess you could say, and right now he's hitting the ball very well.
Q. Mark, I know you're a lefty, but out here you're not a lefty. He is. Never had a lefty winner out here before. Does he have an advantage in that sense?
MARK MULDER: I don't know if there's really an advantage. He sometimes plays a little bit of a draw. I mean a lot of these holes move left to right. So if you do cut the ball, I think it definitely does help.
He turns it over from time to time. Jack and I both were moving it both ways a little bit, here/there today. So it's just whatever is comfortable. I know there's times I laid back on certain holes just because it doesn't fit my eye.
I know Mardy is the same way. He did the same thing with me when we played yesterday. So you just gotta go with what works. And I don't think it really benefits one or the other.
Q. Mark and Jack, both of you have won this tournament before. But the leader has not. How much pressure is that going to be on him coming down the stretch? He's never been here before.
JACK WAGNER: I think it's probably going to be -- I don't think anybody thinks they have an edge right now. I really don't. Even Mike Modano, what is he at, 40 something, 45. We've all played a lot of golf together.
We all know each other pretty well. We all get along very well. It's more about going out and grinding it out. I just think that if I can go low, it's going to put just as much pressure on Mark or Mardy, like if Mark goes low.
You watch a guy play, and he starts making putts, you either join him or you don't. You get a mojo going in a group and you can have some fun out there making birdies. You did it last year.
Hopefully we'll all have a good day and the winner will just be the guy who played best.
MARK MULDER: I don't know if I'll be in that final group or not, but point is last year when I was in that final group, Gagne and Scobee, we got it going where we were running away with everyone and we had a good vibe going and it worked.
And all it takes is just a few good shots here or there, and it doesn't really matter how you're hitting it.
If somebody gets hot -- none of us are that great of players. We're all really good at times. But we're not great. So if somebody does get hot, you can kind of pull away, especially if you're not in that final group; you post that number and that puts a lot of pressure on somebody looking at that scoreboard.
JACK WAGNER: I thought it was great for a minute. Okay, Mark (laughter).
Q. Obviously it's been pretty hot out there. Hot conditions. Is the heat a factor at all for either of you guys whatsoever?
JACK WAGNER: I don't think the heat is. Just today it was a very -- we had to keep our patience. We were behind Steph Curry and Justin Timberlake and Alfonso.
MARK MULDER: There was a lot of waiting today. That made it hotter some of the tee boxes we all kind of ran for the trees to kind of find a little shade, just because there was a lot of standing around as that round went on.
Q. Jack, you and Mardy have talked about how much you guys play together and you are at the same club, familiar with each other. Looks like you're going to be in the same group together. How do you think that's going to play out? Is it he's so familiar, is it going to be a fun round among buddies? Are you competitive with him? How do you think that's going to play out?
JACK WAGNER: We're sort of friendly when we play and sort of not. Listen, I've been around professional athletes enough, especially Mardy. He's a solo player. He doesn't have a team when he played.
So my experience with professional athletes, especially in golf, is these guys are not out there to make friends. I mean, we'll talk and have some laughs, but they're all very cutthroat at what they do.
You have to eat or be eaten in the professional sports world. And that's how it's like out there on the golf course. We all get along. We're friendly. We'll have some laughs.
But no, no, he'd love to step on my neck just like I'd like to step on his, and Mark's and Modano's (laughter).
Q. Mark, looking at the history of the 27 years of the American Century Championship or the Tahoe golf event overall, there's only been two back-to-back winners, Rick Rhoden and Dan Quinn, both athletes, one a pitcher. Is this going to give you any cause for a little concern tomorrow that you can join an elite group, be the third one in 27 years to do back to back?
MARK MULDER: I would love to. That was my intent when I came here was to defend my title. Don't let that get crooked in any way. That's what I wanted to do when I came here.
And that's what I plan on doing tomorrow. Like he said, all of us athletes, whether it's TV, acting, it doesn't make any difference, we're all insanely competitive and we're all out there having fun.
Listen, I can't play that game that serious. If I play it that serious I won't enjoy it. But it when comes down for me to hit my shot, I'm not messing around.
I'm trying to mentally lock it in for each and every shot, just like I did every time before I threw each and every pitch. And you have to approach it that way. And while, like Jack said, we all get along, each and every one of us want to dominate the other guy. There's no way around that.
Q. I believe there's a tree out there with the names of the back-to-back winners carved into it.
MARK MULDER: I didn't know that. I'd like to be on that.
Q. Jack, a question for you. A couple of years ago when you were leading, everyone gave you a hard time because you weren't an athlete. And you said you use the elliptical. Are you still on the elliptical?
JACK WAGNER: On the elliptical, thank you for asking. I've even started doing some core work. Mark said today, "Wow, you look bigger." No, I'm kidding. (Laughter).
Q. Mark, I was wondering if you were training in altitude this year again?
MARK MULDER: Well, we're fortunate enough that we spend a lot of our summers in Arizona, in Flagstaff. So it's 7,000 feet elevation. So it's pretty close to here.
So it definitely does help going up there and playing a few rounds before I come here because it's kind of tough sometimes to get here to convince yourself you can hit certain clubs certain yardages without overswinging.
No. 17 today, I think it was 181, and I hit 9-iron. And so that is something, if I'm in Scottsdale, there's no chance. I'm either hitting a choke 7 or a full 8. And up here it's a 9.
So knowing that the ball can go that far, it does kind of help when I spend the summers up there and I'm able to come here knowing my yardages a little bit better maybe.
Q. And along those lines, what do you think of Heather's 336 yards?
MARK MULDER: That doesn't suck. Is that a good way to put it? (Laughter). I don't know. It's incredible. I think anytime you see someone hit a ball like that here in elevation, especially some of the ones -- the females who do that long drive contest, or a competition, I know a few of the guys in Arizona -- Jamie Sadlowski, a few guys I've been around who do the male side of it, it's incredible how far some of them hit the ball.
And at times I can hit the ball a long ways, but for them, and whether male or female, it doesn't matter; it's so impressive to see something like that.
Q. Jack, you've been coming out here since General Hospital was a pilot, I think. (Laughter) Have you seen this many people here before?
JACK WAGNER: 17 was unbelievable today, wasn't it? 17 and 18 was -- I felt like we were in Scottsdale for the PGA TOUR event on that par-3 they have on 16 there.
But listen, Jonathan Thomas was there. Jon Miller, president of NBC. And this is what this event has come to. This is like nothing else in the golf world. And where are you going to find the athletes and the entertainers to be available, to have that kind of fun openly.
It's just what makes this tournament what it is. And the biggest thing, I don't know about you, but to be able to pull your club back with all those people there, people screaming and yelling and hit a shot in 17 is one of the biggest challenges of the day for me.
MARK MULDER: There's a reason I hit 9 on 17. I have to take adrenalin into it. It's the truth. If I'm in between clubs, I always take the lesser, because there's that nervous energy that you have. And there's times, with these crowds, you will hit the ball further than you ever will at any time in your life because of the adrenalin that you have going through your body.
And I said before this tournament, with Curry and Timberlake and some of the guys here, I thought these might have -- this weekend might have been some of the biggest crowds I personally have ever seen at this tournament. And I think we saw that today.
JACK WAGNER: Actually, Mark and I and Sterling -- Justin and Curry and them teed off on 1 and everybody left us. It was just the three of us. No gallery. We were waving a few people back to join us. (Laughter)
Q. Mark, would you like to introduce the two future reporters sitting in the front row to us?
MARK MULDER: They're being really good. My eight-and-a-half-year-old came up here with me last year. My six-year-old Tatum and my four-and-a-half-year-old Dax. The two of them, I said if you're going to come with me you have to sit really quiet and not say anything. And so far they've done that. (Applause)
I want to share this stuff with them. And the last few pro-am days, I had them out there, I put some of their clubs in my bag so they can hit some shots on 16, 17 and 18. And they love it. And it wears on me a little bit, because you don't want the kids to get in the way of some of the people you're playing with.
But I know that these are some of the things they're going to remember for a long time, so I want them here.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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