Stephen Curry is no stranger to big stages and loud crowds, but what he experienced on July 16 when he won the 2023 American Century Championship was unlike anything he has ever experienced before. In fact, it’s something he has dreamed of for quite some time – having competed in the event 10 times.
Curry had a solid 27 points in the first round – they receive one point for a par, three points for a birdie, six points for an eagle, and a two-point deduction for a double bogey or worse (bogeys are worth nothing). He continued to dazzle in the second round, hitting a hole-in-one on the 7th hole from 152 yards out.
His shot was looking good in the third round, but he found himself down three points as he walked up to the 18th tee. Needing an eagle to win the championship, Stephen Curry came through in the clutch with a long putt from 18 feet out for an eagle – giving him six points on the hole and 75 points in the tournament.
Past Winners of the American Century Championship
Stephen Curry might’ve held the lead after each of the three rounds, but it wasn’t a runaway victory, by any means. Curry faced some heavy resistance from Mardy Fish, who finished with 73 points after scoring 29 in the second round and 26 in the third round. Joe Pavelski took third place with 66 points.
“I don’t do this for a living, so it’s something you dream about,” Curry said following his win – his father, Dell Curry, and brother, Seth Curry, were also competing in the tournament “I’ve been playing in this tournament for almost a decade and now I’ve got some hardware to show for it. It’s pretty special.”
With the victory, Stephen Curry became the first black winner of the American Century Championship and is also the fifth active athlete to win. And, while it was the 34th edition of the event, Curry is just the 14th person to win. The real question is – how many of the 13 other past winners of the event can you name?
1. Mark Rypien (1990, 2014)
Mark Rypien, who played 11 seasons in the NFL between 1988 and 2001, is a two-time winner of the American Century Championship – having won it in 1990 (inaugural year) and 2014. He has one PGA Tour appearance and one Web.com Tour appearance in his career, but he missed the cut both times.
His first win at the ACC came in 1990. He shot a 78 (+6) in the first round, 71 (-1) in the second round, and 72 (E) in the final round to finish the tournament with a 221 (+5). He narrowly beat out Dick Anderson, who shot a 222 (+6) for second place, and Jack Wagner, who had a 223 (+7) for third place.
His second ACC win came in 2014 – 24 years after his first win. He recorded 22 points in the first round and 21 points in the second round, but went haywire in the third round with an impressive 33 points and finished with 76 points total – enough for an 11-point win over Jeremy Roenick and Annika Sorenstam.
2. Rick Rhoden (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2008, 2009)
Rick Rhoden, who played 16 years in the MLB between 1974 and 1989, is the all-time leader in ACC wins – having won it eight times between 1991 and 2009. He’s one of just four golfers to win the event in back-to-back years and was also the runner-up on six occasions. He’s one of the event’s all-time greats.
Here’s a brief rundown of his win history:
- 1991 – Rhoden shot a 221 (+5) before beating Bill Laimbeer in a sudden-death playoff
- 1993 – Rhoden shot a 207 (-9) and beat Johnny Bench by four strokes
- 1995 – Rhoden shot a 211 (-5) and beat Peter Tom Willis by five strokes
- 1997 – Rhoden shot a 207 (-9), beating Dan Quinn and John Brodie by three strokes
- 1999 – Rhoden shot a 212 (-4), beating Dan Quinn and Billy Joe Tolliver by nine strokes
- 2003 – Rhoden shot a 209 (-7) and had 75 points, beating Jack Wagner by four points
- 2008 – Rhoden recorded 68 points and beat Dan Quinn by just one point
- 2009 – Rhoden recorded 74 points and beat Tony Romo by three points
Rhoden spent a lot of time on the golf course following his career in the MLB and has even played on the Champions Tour – where he had three top-10 finishes and appeared in a U.S. Senior Open. He doesn’t compete in the American Century Championship anymore, but he has 22 top-10 finishes in the event.
3. Dan Quinn (1992, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2012)
Dan Quinn, who played 14 seasons in the NHL between 1983 and 1997, is a five-time winner of the American Century Championship – including three wins between 2001 and 2004. Quinn finished as the runner-up behind Rick Rhoden on three occasions (1997, 1999, and 2008) and had 18 top-10 finishes.
Here’s a brief rundown of his win history:
- 1992 – Dan Quinn shot a 213 (-3), beating Rick Rhoden and Dick Anderson by one stroke
- 2001 – Dan Quinn shot a 207 (-9) and beat Rick Rhoden by three strokes
- 2002 – Dan Quinn shot a 213 (-3) and beat Rick Rhoden by two strokes
- 2004 – Dan Quinn recorded 74 total points and beat Rick Rhoden by just one point
- 2012 – Dan Quinn recorded 66 total points and beat Mark Rypien by six points
Like Rhoden, Quinn spent a lot of time on the golf course following his retirement – not just as a golfer, but as a caddy. In fact, he caddied for Ernie Els, Joost Luiten, and perhaps most notably for John Daly during the 2000 U.S. Open. He appeared in four Web.com Tour events, but never made the cut.
4. Dick Anderson (1994)
Dick Anderson, who played nine seasons in the NFL between 1968 and 1977, won the American Century Championship once in his career. He shot a 212 (-4) in 1994, which put him in a three-way tie for first place with Steve Bartkowski and Rick Rhoden. Anderson won in the first hole of sudden death play.
Anderson won $75,000, while Rhoden and Bartkowski won $27,500 each. The only other golfer to shoot under part was Darren Veitch, who shot a 215 (-1) for sole possession of fourth place ($17,000). Pierre Larouche shot an even 216 (E), while Dale Tallon and John Elway each finished with a 217 (+1).
In addition to his win in 1994, Anderson had 11 top-ten finishes at the American Century Championship and was named the runner-up on four occasions in 1990, 1992, 1998, and 2000 – three of which he lost by one stroke. While he’s just a one-time winner, he played a major role in popularizing the event.
5. Billy Joe Tolliver (1996, 2005, 2010, 2013)
Billy Joe Tolliver, who played 12 seasons in the NFL and CFL between 1989 and 2001, is a four-time winner of the American Century Championship – having won in 1996, 2005, 2010, and 2013. He has finished in the top-ten on 14 occasions and was the runner-up three times (1998, 1999, and 2006).
Tolliver shot a 211 (-5) in 1996 – which included a 68 (-4) in the final round – to defeat Donny Anderson by four strokes, taking home $75,000 for his first win at the ACC. He would wait nine more years before his next win in 2005, when he finished with a 211 (-5) and beat Mark Rypien in the third hole of a playoff.
His third win came in 2010, when he finished with an impressive 84 points – a record in the Stableford format and 19 points more than the next closest on the leaderboard. He won for the fourth and final time three years later, recording 67 points and, once again, defeating Mark Rypien in the third playoff hole.
6. Mario Lemieux (1998)
Mario Lemieux, who played 17 seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL, won his lone American Century Championship in 1998 – he had two top-ten finishes in his career at the tournament. The win came roughly one year after he announced his retirement – though he returned to the NHL in 2000.
Lemieux opened the 1998 American Century Championship with a 76 (+4) and had him five shots behind the lead after the first round. He improved greatly in the second and third rounds, shooting a 67 (-5) and 69 (-3), respectively, to end the tournament with a 212 (-4) – beating Billy Joe Tolliver by just one stroke.
There were five golfers in total who finished the 1998 tournament under par – the other three being Dick Anderson at 213 (-3), Rick Rhoden at 214 (-2), and John Elway at 214 (-2). Lemieux ended up winning $100,000 for his first place finish, while Joe Tolliver and Anderson each won $40,000 for second place.
7. Al Del Greco (2000)
Al Del Greco, who played 17 seasons in the NFL between 1984 and 2000, won his lone American Century Championship in 2000. He’s one of five champions – including Stephen Curry in 2023 – to win the tournament as an active athlete as he was preparing for his final season in the NFL at the time.
Del Greco opened the 2000 American Century Championship with a 73 (+1) in the first round, which had him four strokes behind the leader (Jack Wagner shot a 69). Greco followed that up with a 72 (E) in the second round, but dazzled with a 65 (-7) in the third round to finish the tournament with a 210 (-6).
He won $100,000 for the win. Only one other golfer finished the tournament under par – Dick Anderson won $50,000 for his second-place finish with a 213 (-3). Del Greco started coaching a high school golf team in 2006 and is now entering his seventh year as head men’s golf coach at Samford University.
8. Jack Wagner (2006, 2011)
Jack Wagner, who rose to fame as an actor in General Hospital, Santa Barbara, The Bold and the Beautiful, and Melrose Place, is a two-time winner at the American Century Championship. As of 2023, he’s the first and only non-athlete to win the event and one of just seven golfers to win more than once.
His first win came in 2006 when he shot a 213 (-3) and recorded 70 total points – including 23 points in the first round, 24 points in the second round, and 23 points in the third round. He beat Billy Joe Tolliver by just one point and Dan Quinn by three points – they were the only three with more than 60 points.
His second win came in 2011 when Wagner recorded an impressive 80 points – just four points away from tying an all-time record. He had 29 points in the first round, 23 points in the second, and 28 points in the third to beat Tony Romo by three points. Wagner was also a two-time runner-up in 2003 and 2010.
9. Chris Chandler (2007)
Chris Chandler, who played 17 seasons in the NFL between 1988 and 2004, won his lone American Century Championship in 2007 – marking the sixth time a football player won the tournament. It was also the year they increased the total purse from $500,000 to $600,000, of which Chandler won $125,000.
Chandler opened the tournament with 23 points, but was three points behind the leader after the first round. He put up another 24 points in the second round, but he was still four points off the lead. That changed with an impressive 31 points in the final round, bringing his total to 78 points and a 208 (-8).
He ended up beating the legend Rick Rhoden by five points and Grant Fuhr by eight points – leaving no doubt behind his victory. He also has eight top-10 finishes to his name and was even the head coach of a high school golf team at Torrey Pines High School in California. He was good at football, but loved golf.
10. Mark Mulder (2015, 2016, 2017)
Mark Mulder, who played nine seasons in the MLB between 2000 and 2008, is a three-time winner at the American Century Championship and the only golfer to ever win the event three years in a row – he did so in 2015, 2016, and 2017. He was also a three-time runner-up at the ACC, including in 2018 and 2019.
Mulder shot an impressive 82 points – just two points away from tying the record – in 2015, which included 30 points in the final round to seal the deal over Eric Gagne (81 points). Mulder went on to win again in 2016 with 74 total points (including 29 in the final round) to beat Mardy Fish by five points.
His third and final victory came in 2017 when he recorded 22 points in the first round, 26 points in the second round, and 25 points in the final round to finish with 73 total points – 11 points ahead of Mardy Fish, who finished in second place for the second straight year. It was Mulder’s third consecutive victory.
11. Tony Romo (2018, 2019, 2022)
Tony Romo, who played 13 seasons in the NFL between 2004 and 2016, is a three-time winner of the American Century Championship. He’s one of four golfers to win the tournament in back-to-back years and one of five golfers to win the event at least three times – doing so in an impressive five-year span.
His first win came in 2018 when he recorded 71 total points (27 in the final round) to dethrone Mark Mulder – who finished with 68 points and his first loss since 2014. Romo won it again the following year with another 71 points (26 in the first round) – Mulder came in second again, but was 10 points behind.
Romo’s most recent win came in 2022 and it was a close one. He had 25 points in the final round and finished with 62 points, putting him in a three-way tie for first place with Joe Pavelski and Mark Mulder – both of whom had bad drives on the second playoff hole, catapulting Romo to his third ACC victory.
12. Mardy Fish (2020)
Mardy Fish, who was a professional tennis player for 15 years between 2000 and 2015, earned his lone American Century Championship win in 2020 – becoming the first tennis player to win the tournament and the first athlete not named Mark Mulder or Tony Romo to win since 2014. It was a well-deserved win.
Fish opened the tournament with just 18 points in the first round, which had him seven points off the leader (Kyle Williams at 25 points). While Williams stayed strong in the second round, Fish went full beast mode with 37 points – bringing his total to 55 points after two rounds with a three-stroke lead.
He had a respectable 21 points in the final round and finished the tournament with 76 total points – nine strokes ahead of Williams. Fish is also a two-time winner of the Diamond Resorts International (2016 and 2018) and has made one PGA Tour appearance as a sponsor exemption at the 3M Open in 2022.
13. Vinny Del Negro (2021)
Vinny Del Negro, who played in the NBA between 1988 and 2002 and coached in the NBA between 2008 and 2013, earned his lone American Century Championship win in 2021 – becoming the first former basketball player to win the tournament. It was his 20th appearance, so it was a long time coming for him.
Del Negro opened the tournament with 23 points in the first round, but was down two strokes to John Smoltz. He kept the pressure on with 26 points in the second round, but Smoltz matched it with a 26 of his own. A 20-point final round put Del Negro at 69 total points and in a two-way tie for first place.
It was a birdie on the 18th hole by Del Negro that sent it into a playoff. He went on to birdie the 18th hole again in the first extra hole, beating John Smoltz to earn his first ACC win after 20 years worth of attempts. Tony Romo came in third place with 66 points and Annika Sorenstam finished with 64 points.
What’s Next for the American Century Championship?
The American Century Championship is an annual tournament that’s held in the second full week of July – it has taken place at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course along the shore of Lake Tahoe for the past 34 years. If you had fun following along with the festivities, don’t worry – the competition will be back in 12 months!
While Stephen Curry already joined an exclusive list of celebrities to win the tournament once, he’ll have the opportunity to join an even more exclusive list of those to win the American Century Championship at least twice – only seven of the 14 past winners (50%) have won the championship more than once.
Mardy Fish is always a good bet, having won it once and finished as the runner-up on three other occasions (including 2023). Joe Pavelski, Mark Mulder, and Tony Romo are also consistently among the top. One golfer I would love to see win the tournament in the near future is Annika Sorenstam.
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