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Mark Rypien wins American Century title

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STATELINE, Nev. (AP) — Mark Rypien beat out Jeremy Roenick and Annika Sorenstam to win the weather-delayed American Century Celebrity Golf Championship on Sunday.

Rypien took the title for the first time since winning the inaugural event in 1990.

Lightning storms delayed play for more than three hours.

Rypien ran away from Roenick and Sorenstam, putting up big Stableford points on his back nine, going 5 under for a record-breaking third-round total of 33 points and 76 throughout the three-day event at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

After finishing in second place in the past two years, Rypien broke 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.”

Rypien won $125,000 from the $600,000 purse. Sorenstam and Roenick will each get $57,500 for tying for second in the event.

Roenick and Sorenstam tied for second with three-round totals of 65. It was the retired LPGA star’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 strong 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.”

Chad Pfeifer, who lost his left leg above the knee serving in Iraq, started the day in second place, earned only 17 points and tied for fifth with former baseball star John Smoltz, who had the second-highest total of the day along with Sorenstam (23).

In honor of Pfeifer’s effort in the event, American Century donated $25,000 to the Troops First Foundation in his name.

“I truly thought after (Saturday) that Chad was going to be the player to beat,” Rypien said. “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.'”

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 through 15 holes when play was suspended due to lighting. It’s the second day in a row weather delayed play, a short delay Saturday was also due to lightning.

But following the delay, Rypien distanced himself from the rest of the field. He earned 12 points on the final three holes, starting with an eagle on 16 and birdied 17 and 18, recovering from a shot into the trees on 18.

Roenick struggled after the rain delay, bogeying 17 and doubling 18 after hitting his approach into the water. It was Roenick’s sixth top-10 finish in the past six years and his best in the event.