July 11, 2018
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome a number of our favorites for the 29th annual American Century Championship. We have Mark Mulder, Mardy Fish, Mark Rypien, Jeremy Roenick and Dave Cudney.
Q. Mark, tell us what kind of shape your game is in and what you're looking forward this week as three-time winner?
MARK MULDER: Past few weeks I've been playing better. Played yesterday. Hit the ball well. Excited to get going. Obviously everything changes on Friday. A lot of these pro-am days and practice rounds don't mean a whole lot.
You're just trying to feel out the greens, which are firm this year. So that's going to be quite a challenge, if they stay this way through the weekend.
Q. J.R., you've really finished strong last year, 25 points on Sunday. Really picked up your score. Anything mental that you're doing for the first two days a little better than last year?
JEREMY ROENICK: That was actually a funny story because last year I didn't sleep. I woke up at 3:00 in the morning because I had nightmares that I went into the bunker on 1, straight down the middle. And you know on 1 you have to cut it to the right to get into the fairway.
And I literally had nightmares of hitting it dead straight into that bunker. And sure as shit I put it right into the middle of the bunker. Right in the middle of the bunker. And I had an 8-iron over the water.
You think that's the first time I ever cussed in public? Don't worry. It won't be the last. Hit an 8-iron that went right on the edge of the water. When I had to get into the water to hit it I thought it was only like a foot and a half deep.
It actually went all the way to my chest. I almost fell in the water the first hole. No, that's what really happened.
My nightmare came true that I put it into the bunker. You know why it's a nightmare, because exactly what happened to me: I made double on the first hole of the tournament. I'm just not going to think about it this year.
I gotta try to find a way to get past this guy, (referring to Mulder). And this guy is losing weight like crazy (referring to Fish). So hopefully he can't hit the ball as well.
MARK RYPIEN: And I've gained weight.
JEREMY ROENICK: These are always the guys you look forward to play against. So I'm really excited.
Q. I know athletes are not superstitious, you're starting the tournament Friday the 13th, any qualms about that?
JEREMY ROENICK: Anything that's going to get their heads out of the game. And I'm going to try to get in their heads because that's the only way to beat these guys. These guys are so good.
I'm a good trash talker. I've done it for years and years. I'm going to try to keep doing it. Unless you get me close to this guy's putter, I'm going to put a little bend in it on the range, get a little extra benefit.
MARK MULDER: I think I'll take my putter home just in case he steals it.
JEREMY ROENICK: I text him throughout the year saying hide your putter, throughout the year.
Q. Any Friday the 13th --
MARK MULDER: I didn't know it until you just said it. To be honest, trust me, I'll be too nervous on the first tee to worry about that.
MARDY FISH: None, no.
MARK RYPIEN: No.
Q. Dave, I might as well ask you, you mentioned on the conference call about the Barkley bet. Tell us why that didn't come to fruition, the Barkley plus 162. Maybe some people don't know about it.
DAVE CUDNEY: Quickly about the bet, it was a matchup bet against Mark. Since Charles is so popular here, we wanted to put him in there.
And he was up against Mark, but he was getting 158 points. But we've become kind of national now, and it's not as local as it used to be. So Las Vegas is involved with all the bets now. So they decided they didn't want to do that one.
Q. Maybe next year.
DAVE CUDNEY: Pulled it. Maybe next year.
Q. Dave, I've got more questions for you on sports betting. How do you take some of the first-timers in like a Sean Payton or Doug Pederson and figure out some odds on them?
DAVE CUDNEY: Yeah, that's very difficult. Very difficult. I usually take their past performance and, like, say, Mardy, he was really hard, because no one knew quite how good he really was. But now that he's been here a few years --
JEREMY ROENICK: How does my past performance give me 15-to-1?
DAVE CUDNEY: Your past performance is all over the board.
JEREMY ROENICK: Top five last couple, came in second in Florida. Now I'm 15-to-1. There's like eight, ten people ahead of me. So I call BS on whatever you're talking about.
DAVE CUDNEY: I have to finish this. With Jeremy, he has to win it first.
JEREMY ROENICK: Good point.
Q. Charles Barkley, 6,000-to-1. Does anybody actually place a bet on him? Do you get any money on, any traffic on him?
DAVE CUDNEY: Yes, we get plenty of bets on him. I've said we've had the most bets on him because people buy the bets as a souvenir. (Laughter).
MARDY FISH: I'm going to do that. I'm going to put a dollar on him.
MARK RYPIEN: Get him to sign it. I got something on that Sean Payton/Doug Pederson. They've got this ongoing thing. I don't know if you all know about it. But they played in a match, and the loser had to allow the winning coach to use their home uniforms at the visitor's place.
So I think that's pretty cool. So when Philadelphia plays New Orleans this year in New Orleans, Philadelphia will be wearing their home green in New Orleans. So that's, I think, pretty cool.
Now I think next what's going to happen is, if the match happens here and Sean beats Doug, then Sean gets to play with 12 guys up in Philadelphia like the Canadian Football League. (Laughter).
Q. Somewhat of a general question for all of you. With becoming such familiar faces here in the Lake Tahoe area, I'm just curious to know, with all the events you've done, how this kind of sets itself from other events as well as the location and what you look forward to the most when you play here at Tahoe Celebrity golf.
MARK RYPIEN: You could see today, two shotgun starts. Pro-am on Wednesday. Two shotgun starts tomorrow's pro-am. 30-some-odd groups playing in yesterday's pro-am, where we had, like, in the LTVA five, 10 years ago, maybe only 10 foursomes out and maybe one shotgun start on Wednesday and then afternoon tee times on Thursday.
So it's exponentially gotten so much better and better. Obviously, when you've got Steph Curry, people come up from the Bay Area. We've already sold -- give us a number on tickets.
THE MODERATOR: A week ago, presales tickets, same day previous year were up 13 percent, this year. And last year it was a record-setter for attendance at 55,000. And the weather is supposed to be fantastic again this week all week long.
MARK RYPIEN: Aside from all that, we bring our families up here. Just look behind you. That's the best part of it. They get to enjoy it and we get to share it with them.
THE MODERATOR: Couple other guys in this tournament that have showed pretty well lately: Tony Romo won an amateur tournament back in Wisconsin about a week ago by nine strokes.
And Smoltze qualified for the U.S. Senior Open. Played in that. Any thoughts there with those two guys as well?
MARDY FISH: Romo, he also played in a PGA event, which is great experience for something like this as well. So I think he'll be tough this year. He's one of the favorites, no doubt.
He may even be the one to beat, just because he's played so many tough, competitive rounds. Those are tough to duplicate, those types of rounds. So I think he'll be really tough.
MARK MULDER: I talked to him last night, I saw him last night, and he was telling me about his whole routine. And for months he's been absolutely grinding. I mean, putting in hours of hours in the day on his game.
So he's someone who can do that. Some of us -- I can't do that. I can't sit there and whack balls all day and work on it. He can do that. So he'll be ready to go.
Q. Mardy, reference to you losing a little bit of weight earlier. You have lost a few pounds. Is this a new regime to psych these guys out? What's the deal?
MARDY FISH: I stopped eating for like four months. Turns out you can lose weight when you stop eating. I stopped eating.
Q. Dave, we chuckle about Charles and whatnot. But if you could actually put odds that you think would be more accurate on his chances, what would they be? I know the highest you can go is 6,000-to-1; is that correct?
DAVE CUDNEY: Correct. Yes.
MARDY FISH: What's the highest number ever?
Q. That's it. That's what I'm wondering.
MARDY FISH: Just under infinity.
MARK MULDER: I swear J.R. said years ago we should all let Barkley win and we'll all go put money on him. (Laughter).
You did say that.
JEREMY ROENICK: All over the mat. We can watch where he is.
Q. If you could actually put a number on it, what would you put on it? If you can exceed the 6,000? I'm saying personally -- I know you can't do it in the book.
DAVE CUDNEY: Well, we know he's not going to win.
Q. I remember asking Barkley, somebody said to him, hey, Charles you're 6,000-to-1, what do you think? He goes "That ain't enough, man."
MARK RYPIEN: Yeah, but he's one of the best guys in this tournament.
JEREMY ROENICK: The fact that he comes here, it brings the entertainment aspect. It brings the personality aspect. It brings, obviously, the media aspect.
There's not many people that are better with people, better with the media than Charles Barkley. So regardless of how his golf game is, he is probably the number one most important piece of this tournament and has been for a long time.
And you gotta give him a lot of credit, because to go through the ridicule that he does with a lot of people with his golf swing -- and you see he's actually come to enjoy it and accept it, he continues to come back because he knows how much this tournament means to Lake Tahoe and what it means to us to compete.
And he wants it to be one of the best tournaments. So all of us owe him a big thank you for his dedication to this tournament, for sure.
THE MODERATOR: We also know Charles is almost the temporary mayor in this town. After we had the fire 11 years ago, he contributed $100,000 to the fund to help rebuild. Took all the firefighters and all the families to dinner. Next year wrote a check for 95,000 more. That's why there's a plaque under a tree out by the driving range, which is appropriate. But everybody out here loves Charles, there's no doubt about it.
Q. That made me think of this. For the four players, if tomorrow your game was Charles's game, would you still play? And if yes or no, why?
MARK MULDER: I would still play but I wouldn't be happy like he is. I wouldn't be nice. I'd be out there miserable. (Laughter).
Truthfully, that's the thing that amazes me. I know he struggles out on the course but he's still the same guy every day, no matter -- and I've heard a rumor he's actually playing all right right now. Because I was hoping there was going to be the bet between him and I, and I was going to go put money on him.
A friend of his told me he's actually hitting it well right now. So I don't know. I don't know if there's truth to it. But we'll see.
JEREMY ROENICK: I'd be bowling. No question. (Laughter). I would be bowling.
MARK RYPIEN: Curling for me.
MARDY FISH: I'd be bowling, too.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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