American Century Championship
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Mark Mulder. This is number 12 for you?
MARK MULDER: It’s somewhere around there.
Q. And you’re the only three-time consecutive winner here, a few years ago. And now you’ve got Tony Romo that’s won the last two years. You’re about to go get him, I guess, and how’s the game?
MARK MULDER: Well, the game’s good right now. It all depends what happens on Friday morning when you start. So this tournament’s unique where all you’ve got to do is look at the numbers, with the scoring.
I didn’t show up very well the last two years, and Tony earned all of it the last two years. When it comes to the points, I think the years when I won it it was low 80s upper 70s and the last couple of years I believe I was in the 60s.
I didn’t perform the way I wanted to. And I need to play better if I want to compete with him.
Q. The folks at Caesar’s have you going off at 5-to-2 right behind Tony. Have you made a trip across the street yet?
MARK MULDER: No, I’ll be there in the next day or two, though. We got in too late last night. I’ll venture over there here shortly.
Q. With no spectators this week, how does this course play differently this year with no spectators for you?
MARK MULDER: There’s certain holes, to be honest, where — I know 7 there’s always a lot of people on 7. Then when you get to the last couple, adrenaline plays into all of this. And this year there’s not going to be that.
You’re still going to have the adrenaline of the pressure of the tournament, but there’s certain clubs, I’ve taken on some of those holes that I’d never hit that far any other time during the year because you have that much adrenaline flowing through your body at that time.
So there’s going to be — that’s going to be a tad bit different. But, for example, today when we were on 14, normally to me 14 looks so back-to-front, the pitch of the green. And without that grandstand behind the green, it borderline looked flat when we got there. Millar and I were actually laughing about how there was no slope to that green anymore.
I actually asked, Did they redo this green? It didn’t look the same. So obviously you get used to some of the looks with the grandstands behind the greens, and not having them this year is going to be a tad bit different. But there’s still that pressure of the tournament. I actually enjoy having the fans out there because of that adrenaline, because of that pressure.
It just gives you a little bit added focus, I guess you could say, to some of the shots that you hit. You don’t want to get booed.
Q. Very good observation; they did flatten that green. They took the back off so you don’t have the slope.
MARK MULDER: I didn’t know that.
Q. Three-time winner noticing that. Obviously the favorites, you’ve got Tony and you and Derek Lowe and Mardy Fish, and a lot of questions coming up about Steph Curry now that he’s had time to play. I see Steph is going off 18-to-1. That’s the best odds for any active player out there. What’s your thought on Steph’s chances?
MARK MULDER: Well, I know for me personally, when my career ended, I was able to play a little longer consecutively time-wise and I did get better, especially my short game.
So the fact that he’s coming into this tournament having continuously played — I haven’t played with him recently. So I can’t speak to his game.
But when you can play for an extended period of time, generally your short game is going to be better. For me, with baseball, when the season started, season would get done and my short game was kind of not very good.
So it’s not going to hurt him, let’s put it that way. It can only help him in some way, shape or form. But I can’t speak on how his game is right now or anything like that.
Everybody’s a little different of how they work and how much they practice and how much time they put in. But I would expect for a good showing this weekend.
Q. What aspect of your game do you feel best about coming into the tournament?
MARK MULDER: Right now, compared to the last couple of years, my driver. The last couple of years my tee ball wasn’t where I wanted it to be. My short game was okay. My approach shots have always been okay. But my tee ball, the last couple of years, hasn’t been very good, which is a big advantage for me as far as I hit it.
So as long as that continues, I’m going to have a chance on Sunday, I feel.
Q. You said earlier that Romo is going to be going for his third in a row. He’s the only guy that’s won three in a row. Any helpful words of advice you’d like to offer him?
MARK MULDER: No. I’ll keep it simple.
Q. Baseball and what’s going on right now with coronavirus, what’s your take on everything as far as the season?
MARK MULDER: I’m glad they’re playing something. It’s better than nothing. I just hope with the short little three weeks of pitchers trying to get ready, I just hope we don’t see some big-named guys get hurt. You just don’t want to see somebody out there blowing it out and next thing you know there’s a shoulder or elbow of a big-named guy because it was just not enough time.
Forget the virus, it’s the injuries that I hope we don’t see. When it comes to hitters, you know, there’s that rib cage. Guys hurt themselves that way on a check swing maybe because they don’t have those five, six weeks of spring training. They only have three. It’s the injuries I guess that worry me the most. You just don’t want to see that happen.
On the other hand, you’re going to have some teams that have some players who are coming back from injury that might help them in this short amount of time because they don’t need them for a whole season grind. It’s just a short amount of time. You can maybe hide them in the bullpen, even some starting pitchers coming back from Tommy John, whoever that might be.
It’s going to be interesting. It’s going to be a short little race. There’s not going to be that full season to pace yourself. It’s going to be a little bit of a sprint.
Q. More of a local question here because you made your bones when you were pitching for the A’s in Oakland, the new stadium situation there and what’s going on. What’s your opinion there?
MARK MULDER: I guess I haven’t followed it a lot. In past years I’ve put stuff on Twitter that there’s no chance they’re going to have a new stadium before 2030. I just don’t see it happening. There’s too many issues. Too many groups, I guess, that are against it.
We were supposed to have a new stadium in a couple of years when I was there. So why is that going to change? That’s the unfortunate thing. That whole stadium site, it’s such a cool area, whether they move it to downtown or on the water there, I forget.
Q. Jack Lemmon Square?
MARK MULDER: Whether they move it there. And so many cool sites would do something for that area to make it better as far as restaurants and jobs and everything like that. There’s no way it’s going to happen.
It’s sad to say it, but I feel as though the A’s aren’t going to have a new stadium unless it’s somewhere other than Oakland, which is really unfortunate if that’s the case, because every time they propose something it gets shot down by somebody. And there’s just too many people against it. I just don’t see it happening.
Q. As far as being able to keep their talent, they’ve got a lot of talent on their team.
MARK MULDER: They always have. Without a new stadium you can’t do those types of things. I feel like sometimes with the A’s that’s always the crutch they fall back on. We don’t have the money for it. Well, without a new stadium, of course you don’t.
And that’s the unfortunate part about it. And it’s sad to see that every other team sometimes reaps the benefits of those young players right before they’re free agents.
Q. I believe last year Tony won it with 71 points in the modified Stableford format. You had 61, if memory serves. You talked about hitting the driver better this year. Is that what it’s going to take, from what you guys are saying as far as the greens being in the shape they’re in?
MARK MULDER: Yeah, it’s the best I’ve ever seen this course, and it’s not even close. The last couple of years I think I’ve said the same thing, that the course has been in incredible condition.
The fact how firm they are, how fast they are, how smooth the greens are, you’re going to see a lot of guys 3-putt, just because of the speeds of those greens, especially if they get dried out a little bit over the next couple days, a little faster. It’s still going to take 70-something to win this tournament.
No matter how tough the greens are. So you still have to find a way to put the ball in the hole. So, yes, I can sit here say my tee ball is better but you’ve still got to make those puts.
Q. Smoltz was in here earlier. He said he had seven birdies today. How did you play?
MARK MULDER: I played good. I think I had three or four, maybe. I’ve had a lot of tournaments where I’ve come in for practice rounds and shot 65 and didn’t win the tournament. So it really doesn’t make a bit of a difference. It’s very different on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, when it starts to matter.
Q. Are you at all frustrated, whatever, whatever the word might be, that Tony Romo’s kind of stolen your thunder here these last couple of years?
MARK MULDER: No, because to be honest, I haven’t played very well the last two years. And I said to them, I said it’s all based on points. The years I won it I had low 80s, upper 70s.
And the last couple of years I think I’ve been in the low 60s, maybe. So he’s earned it. He played well. I didn’t. So I need to show up if I want to contend again. And I haven’t done that the last two years.
Q. I guess that’s a true competitor. It’s on you, not on him.
MARK MULDER: Exactly.
Q. You can win it — Romo, you, there’s three or four other guys, do you think Steph Curry has maybe moved up a little bit just because of the situation with the NBA?
MARK MULDER: I haven’t played with him. So we might play tomorrow. But to be fair, I don’t know. I don’t think it can hurt him. If anything, it could help him, the fact he’s continuously been playing.
I know when my career ended and I started playing year-round, your short game gets better. Your chipping gets better; putting gets better, because those are the things that leave you when you take the break during the season if you’re not playing very often.
So the fact that he has maybe what you might want to call prep time for this tournament, it’s not going to hurt him. If anything, I think it could help. But to be fair, whether that’s really going to matter once we start teeing it up on Friday, who knows.