Sunday, July 21, 2013

Billy Joe Tolliver Wins His Fourth American Century Championship in Playoff

Photo courtesy of Conrad Buedel,

South Shore, Lake Tahoe, Nev. – Billy Joe Tolliver made par on the third playoff hole Sunday to edge Mark Rypien to win the American Century Championship played at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

Each golfer had 67 points after 54 holes of regulation play. In extra holes, each made par-birdie on the par-5 501-yard 18th hole before Tolliver took advantage of Rypien’s poor approach from 60 yards and needed just two putts from 25 feet the third time playing the hole to claim his fourth championship.

The event used a modified Stableford format that awarded graduated points for pars or better.
Two points were deducted for a double bogey or worse.

Retired MLB pitcher Mark Mulder finished third with 66 points. Former NFL quarterback Chris Chandler and four-year NBA star Stephen Curry had 64 points.

“I’m not sure how we got into a playoff,” said Tolliver, who earned just four points (a par and a birdie) on the last four holes of regulation. “I have never been in a playoff like this before. I can’t feel my hands right now. I guess I played the sympathy card long enough with Rypien that he finally let me have it. I feel bad for Mark because he hit that bad shot at the end. No one wants to win that way.”

Rypien, who led after the opening round on Friday with 27 points, had his chance to win in regulation but his 15-foot putt for birdie missed left, setting up a playoff with Tolliver. Rypien won the inaugural event in 1990 and has been runner-up each of the past two years.

On the third playoff hole, his pitch found the lake and opened the door for Tolliver, who also won the event in 1996, 2005 and 2010.

“That hole has my number,” said Rypien, who birdied the short par-5 finishing hole just one of the three days.

Mulder mounted the biggest rally on the last day and birdied two of the final three holes. Curry led going into the final round, but made only three pars in the final eight holes. Chandler led until he tee shot at the par-3 17th sailed right and led to a bogey.

“I think I showed I’ve got what it takes to win here,” said Curry, the 36-hole leader. “Obviously, it takes a lot to win. A lot has to go right. The more I play, the more comfortable I get. It’s a great environment to play golf in.”

Defending champion Dan Quinn finished with 52 points.

By Craig Smith, former director of media relations for the U.S. Golf Association.

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