Stateline, Nev. – Former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien had two birdies and an eagle on the last four holes Saturday to score 27 points in his second round and take the 36-hole lead at the American Century Championship by three points over Dan Quinn and by five over first-round leader Mark Mulder. Rypien, who shot the equivalent of a 1-under-par 71 for his round, hasn’t finished higher than third since winning the inaugural Tahoe event in 1990.
“I’ve been chasing it for 22 years,” said Rypien, “I don’t know what the heck the lead looks like. I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I hit the big 5-0 this October, so it’s nice to be competitive and back with a chance to win.”
Rypien has played 21 of the 23 tournaments at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. He was third in 2004 and 10th a year ago.
The event uses a Stableford scoring system that awards graduated points for pars or better. The event continues with the final round Sunday, with television coverage by NBC from 3-6 p.m. (EDT).
Rypien started his late scoring-run of 12 points in the last four holes with a 30-footer for birdie on the 15th. He hit a 2-hybrid from 265 yards to 4-foot and made the putt for eagle and 6 points at the 546-yard par-5 16th and followed that with a 2-putt birdie on the finishing par 5 of 501 yards.
“I turned two points into 16 points yesterday and that’s partly why I’m in the good position I’m in today. I hit it all over the place yesterday,” said Rypien. “It was kind of a Houdini act that got me where I am right now.”
Quinn had a second consecutive round of 20 points while first-round leader Mulder slipped to just 16 points Saturday. Defending champion Jack Wagner has 36 points after the two rounds, six points behind the leader.
“I’m lucky to be in the position I am in said Quinn, a former NHL player who will leave Sunday night to caddie for Ernie Els in next week’s Canadian Open. “I think it will be decided on the last three holes and that’s exactly what NBC wants.”
By Craig Smith, former director of media relations for the U.S. Golf Association.