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Mardy Fish starts slowly in defense of celebrity golf title

Mardy Fish, the Vero Beach native and former top-ranked American tennis player, finished with 18 points after the first round of the American Century Championship and has some work to do if he’s going to defend his title at the 32nd annual celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe.

The tournament uses a modified Stableford scoring system, with points awarded for eagles, birdies and pars.

Fish, a six-time winner on the ATP Tour and the current U.S. Davis Cup Captain, rode a second-round course-record and personal-best 9-under-par 63 to victory last year, but on Friday it was NHL Hall of Famer Mike Modano who produced the fireworks with a double eagle on the par-5 18th, worth 10 Stableford points.

Modano shares the first-round lead with MLB Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz at 25 points.

Fish has a gauntlet of stars and good scores to fight through if he’s going to give himself a chance. NHL player Joe Pavelski and actor Jack Wagner, a two-time winner here, are at 24 points, and eight other players have between 19 and 23 points.

Fish entered the tournament at 2-to-1 odds to win, second behind two-time winner Tony Romo (3-to-2).

The 54-hole tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course concludes Sunday. It is televised live on NBC Saturday and Sunday.

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