STATELINE, Nev. – Actor Jack Wagner extended his lead with four birdies and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had one of the best rounds of the day to move into second place Saturday at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe.
Wagner, who became the only non-professional athlete to win the 54-hole tournament five years ago, said his game has improved since he learned not to dwell on his mistakes.
“You know, I don’t have a PGA Tour card. I’m an actor who plays some golf and I’ve got to approach it that way and just kind of not beat myself up,” Wagner said.
“I think that’s the real mistake I’ve made in the past is kind of beating myself up out there. So I’ve been able to kind of let the bad shots go so far,” he said.
Wagner, who will be teamed with Romo in the final group on Sunday, could become the first winner to lead wire-to-wire since the event switched to a modified Stableford scoring format in 2003.
He followed an opening 68 with a 71 on Saturday that translated into a two-day total of 52 points in the system that awards six points for eagle, three for birdie, one for par, none for bogey and minus two for anything worse.
Wagner said part of the credit for his success goes to his caddy, a longtime friend and PGA Tour player, David Berganio Jr.
“David keeps saying, `Take it man, let’s go. Put the pedal to the metal, dude, let’s go”” Wagner said. “I’m like, `I’m an actor. I don’t know pedal to the metal.”’
Romo also had four birdies during a round of 70, good for 46 points at a tournament with a $600,000 purse, $125,000 for the winner.
Former quarterback Chris Chandler was next with 42 points, followed by actor Oliver Hudson with 41. Vinny Del Negro, John Smoltz and Jeremy Roenick were next with 40. Brett Saberhagen had 39 and Mike Modano 37.
Romo tied for second last year and has finished no worse than a tie for third in his two other appearances at the tournament. He said he’s out to win it on Sunday.
“I’m very competitive whenever I show up to play whether it’s basketball, football, soccer, golf, whatever it is,” Romo said.
“For me, it’s not really enjoyable to go out and be 32nd best whatever it is you’re doing,” he said. “I think the competition for me is what fuels the passion of winning and losing. I mean, just competing is what I enjoy doing every day when I wake up.”
“I understand when I lose, you know, that it’s part of the process. It’s just not enjoyable while it’s going on,” Romo said.
Wagner said he has won the club championship at Bel Air Country Club in Los Angeles six times “and been runner-up 12 times.” He said he’s never played with Romo before but is looking forward to it.
“Tony’s hungry,” Wagner said. “I’m glad because I want to play with a guy who is right next to me nipping on my heels and I want to be able to bury him. That’s my goal tomorrow, to just take it.”
Other competitors had other priorities at the course on the shores of the azure mountain lake where more than 100 boats anchored along the two closing holes.
“You don’t want to nail anybody,” Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow said.
NBA star Charles Barkley sent one errant drive over the gallery’s head about 200 yards to the right. On another tee, a fan asked him if they were standing far enough out of the way to be safe.
“I ain’t hit the ball yet,” Barkley answered. “How the hell would I know?”