STATELINE, Nev. (AP) — Even actor Jack Wagner’s 91-year-old mother was focused on Tony Romo as her son and the Dallas Cowboys quarterback battled in the final round of the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe.
But Wagner, the only non-professional athlete to have won the tourney in its 22 years, did it again Sunday, holding off the late-charging Romo with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole and overcoming a shot into the pond guarding the par-5 18th.
“Unbelievable,” said Wagner, who joined Rick Rhoden, Billy Joe Tolliver and Dan Quinn as the only multiple champs to claim the $125,000 winner’s check at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
“My hat’s off to Tony Romo,” he said. “What a great player. I’m just really happy to have played well.”
Wagner, who described himself earlier in the week as a “pipsqueak” actor trying to keep up with the big hitters, said he telephoned his mother before Sunday’s round and all she wanted to talk about was Romo.
“I’m like, ‘Mom, mom, we’re only concerned about Jack today. We can’t control Tony,’ ” Wagner said.
That didn’t stop his mother from commenting on Romo’s size.
” ‘If it comes down to a wrestling match, mom, we’re going to lose,’ ” Wagner said he told her. “So that was really the key for me today. I was kind of focused on what I was doing and I think that helped my nerves.”
Wagner birdied his first two holes and five of the first eight to open up a 10-point lead that appeared to be insurmountable in the modified Stableford scoring format that puts a premium on eagles and birdies.
But he bogeyed three of his next six while Romo drove the green and eagled the 315-yard 11th then birdied the 13th to cut the margin to two.
Both hit inside 15 feet on the par-3 17th, but Romo missed his birdie attempt while Wagner made his.
Romo followed Wagner into the pond on the 18th then made par while Wagner saved bogey to win 80-77.
“I had to be aggressive and have a three there,” Romo said of his second shot from about 165 yards that had to clear a big tree in front of the green and knife through a strong wind off Lake Tahoe.
“It’s the kind of shot you’ve got to hit if you need to make eagle. I hit a good shot. It held its line until about the apex when it started to drift,” he said. “Jack deserves all the credit here. He really went out there and won the golf tournament.
“He put a lot of pressure on me to play a great round of golf. When you make six birdies in the first 11 holes it usually is over by that point.”
Ex-quarterback Chris Chandler, who won in 2007, tied Jeremy Roenick for third at 66. Actor Oliver Hudson was fourth at 62. Rhoden, an eight-time winner, was next with 61. A record 40,156 fans attended the tourney, spokesman Phil Weidinger said.
The Stableford system awards six points for eagle, three for birdie, one for par, none for bogey and minus 2 for double bogey or less.
It also gives eight points for a hole-in-one, but that was the last thing on Joe Sakic’s mind after the former NHL MVP made an ace on the par-3 17th, where a hole-in-one earns $1 million from the tournament sponsor, with half going to Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation for cancer research.
“That’s a shot you never imagine hitting,” said Sakic, who won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche. “I’ve never even been close before. If you’re going to do it, why not here?”
Romo shot a 66 in a regular format while Wagner had a 69.
“Six birdies, no bogeys. That’s a good round of golf for me,” Romo said.
Wagner said a lot of the credit goes to his longtime friend and caddie for the week, PGA Tour pro David Berganio Jr., who hopes to be back from an injury in January.
“I think whenever I’ve folded up here and been close to the lead, it’s because I’ve always thought about what might happen, or the negative thoughts,” he said. “And today I stayed pretty positive. That’s a lot to do with David.”