Good friends Mardy Fish and James Blake will tee off this Friday at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe. The three-day golf tournament, which will raise money for the Equal Justice Initiative, as well as the Center for Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund, is a veritable who’s who in the sports world.
Many current and future Hall of Famers will hit the links at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course this weekend. Some of the bigger names include Stephen Curry, Patrick Mahomes, Jerry Rice, Charles Barkley, Larry Fitzgerald, Tony Romo, Greg Maddux, Charles Barkley, and Oscar De La Hoya.
The two tennis players, along with boxing champion Canelo Alvarez, are paired together.
“In the first few rounds, they try and pair you with people you know,” Fish said.
Mahomes is paired with his Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce, while Romo will play with some decent wide receivers in Jerry Rice and Larry Fitzgerald.
“I’m really excited to play with Alvarez,” Fish added. “That's why I love these things, my world would never collide with people like Canelo Alvarez or Steph Curry. I’m watching Patrick Mahomes hit on the range right now, I’d never cross paths with these guys in my day to day life, so it’s really cool.”
If you didn’t already know, Fish is a ringer on the course. His golf swing is every bit as smooth as his beautiful two-handed backhand, and that’s no accident. Fish learned to golf left-handed at four years old, and primarily focused on golf and tennis his whole life.
Much like tennis, a good golf swing depends on balance, hand-eye coordination, and hip rotation. Though the two sports are different in many ways, the basic swing principles remain the same. You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that Jack Sock and Steve Johnson, both armed with bazookas for forehands, can hit the golf ball a mile. Chubbs Peterson said it best, “It’s all in the hips.”
After playing a quick nine holes with Fish, Jack Nicklaus—arguably the greatest golfer of all time—said this about the former ATP No. 7.
“He is the best non-professional golfer that I have ever seen play. I have never seen anybody with as nice a golf swing and as good a golf game that doesn’t play it professionally, or as a top amateur. I was flabbergasted how good Mardy was.”
What does he know about golf??!! ???????? https://t.co/A1zHsFvVN7— Mardy Fish (@MardyFish) December 14, 2018
Despite the heavy praise from the Golden Bear, Fish has come up empty handed the past several years with five consecutive Top 5 finishes, but no title. He’s looking to change that this year.
Two-time defending champion Tony Romo and three-time winner Mark Mulder are the tournament favorites at 2/1, while Fish’s odds are a tasty 8/1, meaning a $100 bet will win you $800. He’s absolutely worth a bet, if you’re into that sort of thing. Fish is well aware of his fantastic betting value this weekend, but insists that Romo and Mulder are the guys to beat.
“Tony and Mark are really, really good, and they certainly play a lot more than I do. Mark (Mulder) for instance is a legit +2 +3 handicap (meaning he basically shoots around even par almost every time he plays). And Tony is legitimately trying to play professionally. He actually shares a coach with Jordan Spieth.”
When asked about some potential side-betting on the course, Fish chuckled.
“There will certainly be some betting going on. James keeps asking me how much cash he should bring to the course.”
This weekend, lower scores are not better. The Modified Stableford Format rewards 10 points for a double eagle, eight points for a hole in one, six points for an eagle, three for a birdie, one for a par, and zero for a bogie. A double bogie subtracts two points. “You absolutely cannot double bogie with this format.”
The 39-year-old has spent the week in Lake Tahoe gearing up for the event, so there shouldn’t be any surprises on the course. “If I play here 10 more years, I’m going to win one of these times.”