Former MLB pitcher Mulder enjoying Golf Channel Am Tour

By Mike BaileySeptember 13, 2012, 12:40 am

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Once a competitor, always a competitor. That's the way guys like former Major League Baseball pitcher Mark Mulder are wired.

So when he stopped playing baseball a few years ago, the former standout left-handed pitcher – who plays golf from the right side – was looking for another avenue to quench his thirst for competition. The Golf Channel Am Tour fit the bill, and this week, he's playing in his second Golf Channel Am Tour National Championship tournament.

On Wednesday he fired a second round 75 on the Lagoon Course at Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, with a couple of doubles and a bogey down the stretch. Combined with his opening round 82, he finds himself in 10th place, 13 shots off the lead set by Brian Beach of Missoula, Mont., at 216 even par.

'The last five holes just killed me. I hit it way better than my score shows,' said Mulder, who shot the low round of the day in Round 2 with a 72 on the Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass, home of The Players Championship.

Mulder lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., these days with his wife Lindsey and three young children. He works for ESPN as an analyst, but still has plenty of time to kill, which is one of the reasons he's a regular on the Golf Channel Am Tour. This is his 12th event of the year, and he's won three times this season. So he knew he had a chance going in.

'I came here to win,' he said. 'But it's not that big of a deal, though. I'm here to enjoy myself. I've been paired with a lot of great guys every day.'

For Mulder golf has always been an escape. Growing up just outside of Chicago in South Holland, Ill., he regularly played a local course for three bucks, got a hot dog and a drink at the turn for $1.50 and afterwards called his mom to pick him up.

But since he was so good at all the other sports, golf was more for enjoyment, as it was during his playing career with the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals.

Of course, like many great athletes, and especially pitchers, he was pretty good at golf. And when he got to the majors, he took his clubs on all the road trips. He teed it up with the likes of former Braves pitcher John Smoltz, regarded as one of the world's best celebrity golfers.

'We've played a couple of rounds together,' he said of Smoltz. 'He's gotten me by a couple of strokes each round we've played. We've been matched up in Tahoe (at the American Century Celebrity Championship) a few times, too.'

It was, in fact, an invitation three years ago from the celebrity tournament at Edgewood Lake Tahoe that spurred Mulder's interest in the Golf Channel Am Tour.

'I had never really played competitive golf before,' said Mulder, who qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur shortly after he started playing the Am Tour. 'So I Googled 'amateur golf,' trying to find what I could, and this popped up. A buddy of mine told me about it also and I started playing in it to kind of feel what it's like to play under the gun a little bit, and it worked out great.'

Mulder also recruited a couple of baseball friends to play in Am Tour events, like former Chicago White Sox player Jermaine Dye and current St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse. In addition to Mulder, former Yankees pitcher Orlando 'El Duque' Hernandez is also playing in the Am Tour Championships this week.

If you pin him down, he'll tell you the best course he's ever played is Cypress Point at Pebble Beach, though Augusta National, which he's played twice, is pretty special, too.

The Am Tour couldn't have a better unofficial spokesman. Mulder is impressed by the professional feel of the Tour, from the way the tee times are set up, to the scoring, to the functions that are held here at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Beach Club.

For the most part, he said, he's always played with great guys, but there have been times when he's been paired with someone who is a little too intense.

'It happens every now and then,' Mulder said. “You get those guys who have a little bit too much emotion that go into it. You kind of want to say, 'Hey buddy, this is for fun. We're amateurs for a reason. We're not playing for a couple hundred grand.'”

'That's why I'm here. I just enjoy competing. And that's the bottom line.'

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.