By Randy Walker
Mardy Fish continued to stake the claim as the best celebrity golfer in the world by winning the celebrity division of the Hilton Grand Vacations LPGA Tournament of Champions at the Lake Nona Country Club, just on the other side of Lake Nona from the U.S. Tennis Association National Campus.
The former world No. 7 and 2004 Olympic silver medalist won the prestigious nationally-televised celebrity event for a fourth time. In the modified Stapleford scoring system format, Fish finished with 152 points with former baseball star Mark Mulder finishing a distant 15 points behind in second with 137 points and former LPGA star Annika Sorenstam finishing with 133 points.
“It was fun to watch him play so well this week. It was very impressive,” says NBC LPGA golf analyst Morgan Pressel, the niece of former top 10 tennis star Aaron Krickstein.
Added NBC and Golf Channel commentator Steve Sands, “And we know how important these things are to guys like Mardy. It was an amazing week and an amazing feeling for Fish. Good for him.”
In addition to winning the Orlando celebrity event for a fourth time (earning a first-prize paycheck of $100,000), Fish has also won the two other major celebrity golf events in Dallas, Texas last April and at the most famous celebrity golf event, the American Century Championships at Lake Tahoe in 2000. Jack Nicklaus also called Fish “the best non-professional golfer” he’s ever seen, as you can read here: http://www.worldtennismagazine.com/archives/16360
Fish entered the Lake Nona event with limited practice, fine-tuning his eight-iron shot will playing the par 3 17th hole at The Windsor Club in his hometown of Vero Beach, Florida with each foursome who paid to play in his Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Golf Fundraiser.
“I hadn’t practiced all that much,” said Fish to NBC Sports in his post-victory interview. “Maybe there’s something to that, coming into this week. So going into the next one in Dallas in April, maybe I’m not hitting very many balls or anything like that, and see if I can get putting lesson from someone.”
Said Pressel of Fish, “He has played such incredible golf this week. He said coming into this week, it was the least prepared he had ever been for a competition like this, and yet it the best he has ever played.”
On what he will take away from the experience here this week playing alongside the top LPGA pros, Fish said. “That they’re a lot better than I am and better than almost everybody out there that’s watching, that’s for sure. Just made some really cool friendships and stuff and some gals that I get to watch compete and everything. So it’s a blast to be in the same group and watch them. I got to play with Annika (Sorenstam) yesterday, which was super cool. I’ve been looking forward to that for a long time, and trying to get with her and everything. So yes, it’s been a really fun week.”