Rypien rallies to win American Century Championship

Stateline, NV ( - Mark Rypien went on a post-rain delay tear to beat out Jeremy Roenick and Annika Sorenstam and win the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament for the first time since he captured the inaugural title in 1990.

Rypien put up big Stableford points on his back nine, going 5-under for a record-breaking third-round total of 33 points and 76 total throughout the three-day event at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. After finishing in second place in the last two years, Rypien was finally able to break through with a win in the 25th anniversary of the tournament.

"In 25 years from now I'll be 76. Do you think I could do that when I'm 76?" Rypien said. "It was a little bit of an advantage just from that standpoint that I'm accustomed to playing in inclement weather with golf and football and then that was kind of the way it was today. It was kind of uncomfortable for everybody, but I felt fine."

Roenick and Sorenstam tied for second with three-round totals of 65. It was the retired LPGA legend's first appearance in the event and although she has already been invited back, she is unsure if she will play the event again next year despite her high finish.

"I was hoping for a few more points," Sorenstam said. "I don't know if 76 would have been reachable for me the way I played today, but maybe a few more and I would have felt very comfortable and pleased."

Iraq War veteran and amputee Chad Pfeifer, who had started the day in second place, earned only 17 points and tied for fifth with John Smoltz. Smoltz had the second-highest points total of the day along with Sorenstam (23).

"I truly thought after (Saturday) that he was going to be the player to beat," Rypien said about Pfeifer. "After he double-bogeyed two and then came back with birdies on three and four, I said to myself, 'This is who I have to beat.'"

Soap opera actor Jack Wagner, also a former champion of the event, made a strong push Sunday with 22 points to finish fourth, his 19th top-10 finish in the event.

Roenick and Rypien were tied for the lead with 64 Stableford points each through 15 holes when play was suspended due to lighting cells moving in from the lake. It's the second day in a row weather had delayed play, a short delay Saturday was also due to lightning.

But following the rain, Rypien began to distance himself from the rest of the field.

He amassed 12 points on the final three holes, starting with an eagle on 16 and birdies on 17 and 18, even recovering from a shot into the trees on 18.

"When you play two good holes coming off a break like that you don't want to limp in," Rypien said. "I made birdie on the last hole and I didn't hit a good tee ball on my second shot, but I hit a good third shot and it was a good way to end."

Meanwhile, Roenick struggled after the rain delay, bogeying 17 and doubling 18 after hitting his approach into Lake Laimbeer.

"It was unfortunate for Jeremy that he kind of limped down the stretch a little bit," Rypien said. "I think he was up on the tee box at 17 trying to get into my head a little bit not worrying about what needed to do, yelling at me 'Go away! Go home, Ryp!'"

It was Roenick's sixth top-10 finish in the last six years and the highest one he has recorded in the event.

Rypien won $125,000 of the total $600,000 purse. Roenick and Sorenstam will split the combined second- and third-place money of $85,000.