July 12, 2017
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Jeremy Roenick, Jack Wagner, Mardy Fish, Dave Cudney and Mark Rypien.
We'll start it off, Jeremy, tell us about your game, what you're thinking about the odds, how you think your chances are. You've always been in the hunt here, and take it away.
JEREMY ROENICK: Again, it's always exciting to be out here in Lake Tahoe. This is my, without question, my favorite week of the year, by a long shot. Not only because how beautiful it is, but I get to see my buddies and put my competition hat on again.
You know, I'm happy with the 12-to-1 right now. I think I finished top 5 last year. I've been knocking on the door of this tournament for the last four years and looking forward to battling again.
I think one of the great things about this week is my son is my caddie. And between the two of us we have a lot of fun grinding it out together, competing with guys like Jack and Mardy. And I hope to give them a little scare. That's all I care about. Come in, have fun, let my game do the work.
Obviously I know the course as extremely well as Jack does, so we use that to the best of our abilities to get maybe a little bit of a head start on some guys first round.
THE MODERATOR: Jack, you won this before. You're the quote/unquote nonathlete to have won this championship and, you've taken a little heat from some players over the years.
JACK WAGNER: I do the elliptical. I don't know about the whole nonathlete thing.
THE MODERATOR: Gold medal. Talk about your game right now. Annual contender in this. Always in the hunt. You've got a solid game. And what's it been like so far this year?
JACK WAGNER: First of all, thanks for having me. It's always great to be here. I've been gratefully working in Vancouver the past three months. I'm coming in sort of like crash studying for a test, my golf game, in the last ten days.
Maybe that's a good thing. There have been years I've grinded and I think I'm really ready and I disappoint myself. So this year is very low expectations and try to play with a smile on my face and see what happens. That simple.
THE MODERATOR: Now we give you a chance to give your show a plug, what have you been doing up in Canada the last two months?
JACK WAGNER: I've been on The Hallmark Channel for about four or five years now. We're going into season five of a series called "When Calls the Heart." Lori Loughlin and I star. It's a period piece about a pioneer town in 1915. And it's garnered some incredible ratings for The Hallmark Channel as well as a big fan following. We live tweet with the fans during the episode.
So we're doing a Christmas movie again this year, and ten-episode season. And couldn't be more happier and more grateful.
THE MODERATOR: Mardy, fourth time here. You've finished second and fourth. You also won an event, celebrity event down in Florida, about a year and a half ago, at the Diamond Resorts International. Tell us what your game's like and what you're feeling like this week.
MARDY FISH: Great to be back. Obviously most fun week of the year. Bring the family and we have a blast.
I haven't played much. But I'll do a little crash course like Jack this week and see how it goes. But I'm super excited to play again and compete.
It's really the only competition we get anymore -- that I get anymore. So it's a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR: Mr. Dave Cudney, you establish these odds every year. You've got Mulder and Romo as co-favorites at 3-to-1 followed by a number of the gentlemen that are here.
Tell us why you've established the odds, what goes into making those odds, and tell us a little, too, if you would, about what kind of action you normally get on the bets during the week.
DAVE CUDNEY: This tournament is a little difficult, because they aren't professional players. So as Jack said, he hasn't been working on his game.
I don't know that about a lot these players, if they've been practicing a lot. So most of the odds goes by past performance.
Jack's easy because he's been here a lot. Mardy, not so easy. But his past performance deserves to be in the top 10 and, of course, Jeremy, the same way.
THE MODERATOR: Remember a few years ago when we had Mario Lemieux won this event, he was at 40-to-1. You weren't establishing the odds then.
But as far as this week, I mean, you've got Mulder and Romo, like I said, 3-to-1. At the end of the spectrum we have Mr. Barkley at 6,000-to-1. Tell us a little bit about why Romo. I think we have an idea why Mulder, but Tony hasn't played in this event in a few years. So take us through that.
DAVE CUDNEY: Well, Mulder is easy, because he's the two-time champ, defending champ. So he was very easy.
Someone's gotta beat him. Tony was a little more difficult. But he is a really good player, and his past performance, he came in second three years in a row. So that's why I established those two guys at the top.
THE MODERATOR: Now Romo has a little bit more time to dedicate to golf.
DAVE CUDNEY: Correct. We don't know about his shoulder.
Q. Jack, yesterday you said your goal, asked your goal, you said to not embarrass myself. And you said today you've got very low expectations. But you are on the range quite a long time. Looks like you're working pretty hard. Haven't you prepared this year for this very much?
JACK WAGNER: I've been working, as I said. But the last few weeks -- it's kind of weird when you don't play, I know these guys know, they're athletes, they go through seasons where they can't play. But when you come out of it you can have a day you stripe it and the next two days you have no idea what you're doing. That's where I'm at kind of right now.
I think when I get up here the ball flight is different, the yardage is different.
So even years I played well, I think we all have to contend with having sand wedge or wedge in our hand and hitting it 20 feet. We want to hit it stiff. But it's really hard to manage the distance up here.
So I found, over the years, it's really an exercise in patience and tolerance, and not getting down on yourself when you don't birdie holes you think should be easy birdie holes.
The guys that win are able to manage their game around and knock in the obvious birdies on the par 5s as long as Mardy and Jeremy are.
If you get it going like Mark did last year, he shot 5-under on the front. That can happen. And if you do it on the last day you deserve to win.
Q. Jeremy, how many have you missed? You've been here almost every year.
JEREMY ROENICK: I think this is my 26 out of 28. So I missed the first one. And I missed one in the middle due to some family stuff. But it's definitely something that I look forward to every year.
And I started this tournament not even being down where Charles is, because I was a terrible putter. And you get to love this tournament so much, you learn to do it right. You learn to play. You learn to play this golf course properly, and then you want to be in that top group. And that's how my transition about 10, 15 years ago to where I wanted to compete and be up there.
I wanted to see my name on the leaderboard because it was never like that; I was fishing my putter out of Lake Tahoe, for real.
So, yeah, it's a lot more fun to be able to come here and again knowing that I have a shot to be in that top 10, which is a lot of fun for me.
Q. Let's talk about Mulder. We know he's been playing unbelievably well the last two years. What's it going to take to beat a guy like that? Obviously he hits the ball a ton off the tee. What's it going to take? How are you going to get him?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, he's just a great all-around player. He does everything really solidly.
He plays a lot of golf. So good for him.
JEREMY ROENICK: The only thing I can say, you have to get in his head mentally. I'll say the word "shank" as many times as I possibly can when he's around. Not "Hi, Mark," I'm just going to say "shank."
MARDY FISH: He's come back like the last three tournaments as well. He hasn't been leading in like three in a row. So maybe the key is to get him to lead going into the final round, give him a little pressure.
JACK WAGNER: Can we give him 50 going into Sunday, will you take that, and we'll just do that?
Q. Mardy, quick tennis question for you, did you hear about the upset at Wimbledon today, what are your thoughts on that?
MARDY FISH: I watched most of it. I was up pretty early because I'm a little jet lagged from being over there working over there. Awesome, fun win for Sam Querrey over Andy Murray. And I worked very closely with Sam. So it's pretty personal for me to watch him get to the semis. It's pretty exciting time.
Q. Did I read it right, it was his 42nd attempt to get into the semis, Querrey's?
MARDY FISH: He may have played 47 slams; he's only been to the quarterfinals twice. So this is his first semifinal.
Q. J.R., you had your strongest Sunday ever last year, 26 points. I just looked it up, finished fourth, two good rounds before then. Past years you've kind of faded on Sunday. Can you maintain a good balance the entire three days and come up first, second place -- first place?
JEREMY ROENICK: Great question.
Q. Other than saying shanked to --
JEREMY ROENICK: I've had those too. No worries. I know that. It's been like that. And I can honestly say the most memorable was sitting with my buddy Mark Rypien over here and coming down 16 both tied in the final group and the rain fell in. And then coming back.
It's one thing to lose a tournament. It's another thing to get beat. And I got beat coming out of the rain delay by Mark. He put on an unbelievable show. Eagling 16, birdieing 17 and 18. It was a sick display of golf. But that drives you even more to make sure you play well.
And I think that experience with him helped me last year shooting a 68 in the last round. And playing with Mark. You just talked about Mark coming back. Mark had eight birdies in that final round, making putts from everywhere.
When you see other people making putts, your focus definitely goes in. Definitely playing near those last couple of groups that helped. But I'm just hoping there again this year and things will hopefully turn out better.
THE MODERATOR: Mark, everybody teases you, if you're going to wait until the 50th to win the next one.
MARK RYPIEN: I'll be 77 then.
THE MODERATOR: Tell us about your game. We asked the guys earlier how they've been playing. It's been another year. You're always in the hunt here. How has your game been?
MARK RYPIEN: For some reason, this golf event and this golf course brings out the best, I think, in all of us. I shot 86 at my home course two weeks ago.
So consistency has never been a real key but just coming here, you kind of lose your train of thought about golf and just such a peace full Zen place. And I think just all of us here.
Jack's probably been the most consistent over the 28 years. He's probably been top 10 probably 26 of the 28 times and won it a couple times. So it's just a fantastic venue.
I think one of the things you're going to see is maybe some lower scoring because the greens are absolutely the best on Tuesday I've ever seen, I don't know if you played yesterday. But the greens out here are probably the best.
Usually about Monday or Tuesday they put sand on them try to get them ready for Friday, Saturday, Sunday. They did that last Friday. And they're phenomenal.
They're as pure as can be. And it's not about the poa annua anymore. It's just about getting your speed down. And I think the essence of just hitting greens. Because you miss greens here, especially short side yourself, you'll have a difficult time getting up-and-down. I think the premium will be on hitting greens, scoring points, and I think mid to high 70s has a pretty good chance of winning it.
THE MODERATOR: Three out of four of you have been here more than 20 years playing in this event and you've seen the course conditions over the year. Edgewood is back in the Golf Digest Top 100 because of conditioning and whatnot. You've just mentioned it.
Wanted to talk to you guys about what differences you've seen over the years, not just course conditions, but I'm also talking about the growth of this event last year, record attendance, this year as of last week we sold twice as many tickets. Same time last year, pre-event tickets. So what are you thinking? Where do you see it going?
JEREMY ROENICK: I've seen the golf course in a lot more areas than these guys have seen it, for sure. (Laughter).
MARK RYPIEN: Don't be so sure.
JEREMY ROENICK: And I've seen this course grow. And I thought last year the greens were as good as they've ever been. And that makes me even more excited that Mark says they're running true and smooth and that the poa annua is not really as much of an option right now in this year.
So for me I love fast greens. Fast greens excite me. And the faster they are the better. So I'm looking forward to getting out there. But I think the condition up here anyway with all the snow that they got over the wintertime, it's as plush as I've seen it.
And so it's always nice and soft in the fairways. It's really receptive. So I like that also.
JACK WAGNER: This course I think has always been about the greens. I think, what, first 20 years, these athletes are big guys. The greens are a little spongy, there was always kind of you hope you hit the right heel print. And you're guiding up a 15-foot birdie put to just get it in par range.
With greens, like Mark said, firmer like this, I think we all root for good play.
To come down on Sunday and to have guys shooting under par and competing, I think, is our goal, all of us, that we can at least play well.
That's what I meant by I hope I don't embarrass myself. If you can kind of manage your golf game around, I think in the 70s now is where you have to be to win.
And it's gotten to the 80s a few times. I did that, I'll say it one time, just had 18 birdies one week and it just happened. It was an amazing round of golf with Tony Romo, actually, in 2011, where we each shot 66 and 67 to go first and second.
And I think that's all what we root for, is that kind of play that makes this event not only special with the celebrities but really great golf, which we're all capable of.
Q. Jeremy, you were saying that you used to be on the bottom third, sort of the Charles Barkley, not quite Charles Barkley, and this is for all you guys, do you see anyone up and coming that is down in that lower third or lower half that somewhere down the road might be someone to watch out for?
JEREMY ROENICK: I don't know about in the lower half, but we're just sitting here looking at some of these odds. And there's a couple of guys that -- there are a couple guys on this list that I'm going to put money on. No question.
MARK RYPIEN: This isn't baseball.
JEREMY ROENICK: That Ray Allen, Ray Allen is a phenomenal golfer. He actually had the lead down Diamond Resorts in January going into the last round and had it by a large margin.
Had a bad final day. But everybody looked like he was going to run away with the tournament and Mardy played with them that final day.
MARDY FISH: Nine birdies, 65.
JEREMY ROENICK: 65, nine birdies, 30-to-1. There's a guy that can jump off the page at you. And Joe Pavelski, second year here. Last year was his first year here. I think he plays 14th. But this guy I've played a lot of golf with. He can move his golf ball and he hits a lot of fairways, makes a lot of putts, and I'm looking at 20-to-1.
I could see him being in the top 5 this year, too. Just some guys I'm looking at.
Q. Speaking of that, what type of side bets do all four of you have going with other players this week?
MARDY FISH: Last year I gave Aaron Rogers 43 and a half points and I beat him by 44. So he owes me money that -- we're going to bet again.
JEREMY ROENICK: That's great.
MARK RYPIEN: Watch out for Aaron. He had Andy North working on his swing. So take the 44, though.
Q. Jeremy, I think you should wear the same outfit you have on today on Sunday to give you some luck, because you're looking good today.
JEREMY ROENICK: I love you. I love you. You look great too. Love seeing you every year. I'm going hiking. I'm not going, playing golf. I'm going for a hike. So that's good.
Q. Dave, have you seen some big wagers already from some of the celebrities, either on themselves or others?
DAVE CUDNEY: I can say yes to that but I'm not allowed to say who.
Q. I figured that much. And do you normally get a lot of like big-dollar wagers, like thousands or more from various celebrities, either on themselves or on others?
DAVE CUDNEY: Yeah, this is our biggest tournament of the year. The money usually comes in on Thursdays. We receive all the big money because everybody comes out and watches these guys play, and that's when it comes in. But I can tell you it's big money.
Q. And is there a cap on how much can be wagered?
DAVE CUDNEY: We usually limit it to 20 grand a bet. But sometimes we can be persuaded for more (laughter).
Q. Jack, on Mulder, we talked a little bit about him already. But Roenick -- Roenick won this thing seven times, never won --
JACK WAGNER: Rhoden. Roenick is right here, he's never won.
JEREMY ROENICK: Never won. Been near the bottom before.
JACK WAGNER: Been here 26 years, only been asked to leave four of them and didn't. So it's only 22.
Q. Rhoden, we'll go back to him, 7-time winner, never won it three times in a row, never won it twice in a row, how hard is it to win a tournament like this three times in a row?
JACK WAGNER: It's hard to win any golf tournament, any golf tournament, much less three times in a row. I think the guy next to me, Mardy, I played a lot of golf with Mardy I love to play with Mardy.
I love to watch Mardy swing. I swing better when I watch Mardy. We were just talking, he had 11 3-putts last year.
So there are a couple of guys that just hit the ball amazingly. And I think you have guys like Mark and Jeremy and myself that kind of have to scrape it around and grind it out. That's the type of players we are. So if Mardy ever putts well, I don't think -- we'll be talking about Mark Mulder.
I hope -- I can't say I hope he doesn't putt well --
MARDY FISH: Don't worry, I won't.
JACK WAGNER: But I played a lot of golf with him and I know the scrapers and grinders, if we can get it together, we can compete really hard. And the purer ball-strikers, they sometimes -- if they putt well, they'll walk away with it. But if they don't putt well, we've got a big group at the top.
Q. Mardy, another tennis question. Can you weigh in on Sam's next match and what you think he needs to do to win?
MARDY FISH: Yes, he plays Marin Cilic. It's a great opportunity for him now. He's in with a chance. He doesn't play one of the top 4 anymore.
He took out one of them. And Roger is the only one left in that regard. And he plays a guy that he's beaten before. It's unchartered territory for him. He's never been in a Grand Slam semi. So obviously there will be pressure.
But he's playing unbelievable. He's played three 5-setters in a row. He's got to get his body straight. But I give him a great chance to make the final. It's going to be tough to beat Roger this year, for anyone. But I give him a good chance to make the final.
Q. And Mulder was practicing last week in Arizona at 7,000 feet. And you were in Wimbledon. Are you ready to take him on this week?
MARDY FISH: Yeah, I'm ready. I've got zero swing thoughts. I haven't played in a while, except for yesterday. So, yeah, I'll be ready. I hate that guy. (Laughter).
Q. Longest shot to win?
JACK WAGNER: 41.
MARK RYPIEN: He had a swing like Ernie Els. Only a matter of time before he was going to get 'er done. Moment.
JACK WAGNER: I was paired with Mario that day and he birdied six out of the last seven or just five out of the last six. It just like happened. And it finally came together because we all played with him so many years, and we were all like mouths opened.
MARK RYPIEN: Wondering how hasn't he won.
JACK WAGNER: He could be on tour, but I think his putting finally came together.
MARK RYPIEN: I'd like to add one other thing. Having Golden State obviously win and Steph Curry being our new Michael Jordan does not hurt this event one bit. You see why the tickets have doubled. You'll see a lot of 30 shirts out there. And also a guy, from what I've gathered has really worked hard, at his game, stopped making babies, now working his golf game --
JACK WAGNER: Have you played with Seth?
MARK RYPIEN: Yes, unbelievable. If he plays with his dad he'll have trouble. His dad gets in his head a little bit, I think.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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