Jan
23
2012
World-Beater Wilson Wins (Again)
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Wilson celebrates with his family on the 18th green with just a glimmer of sunlight remaining

Mark Wilson methodically played his way to a two-shot victory over Robert Garrigus, Johnson Wagner and John Mallinger, on Sunday at the Humana Challenge. This is Wilson’s fifth career PGA Tour win (2011 Waste Management Phoenix Open, 2011 Sony Open in Hawaii, 2009 Mayakoba Golf Classic and 2007 Honda Classic).

Dating back to the start of the 2011 season, Wilson and fellow Wisconsin native Steve Stricker have the most wins on the Tour, with three. Wilson has the same number of career wins as Tom Lehman. Kinda surprising the ’96 Open champ doesn’t have more, no? — considering Lehman was in contention so often, especially at majors, in the mid-to-late nineties.

So, is Mark Wilson underrated or overrated?

I would say underrated. Yes, he did miss 7 cuts last year and yes, we didn’t really hear from him after the first quarter of the season (by the way, all of his wins have come during this time).

“It feels good, obviously, to be here with the trophy,” said Wilson in his post-victory presser.  “The day went not as planned.  I guess it really never does.  But last time I came out here (to Palmer Private), I shot 62 (in the second round on Friday), so of course I had those images in mind. I made a bad swing on the third hole, and then felt like I hit a lot of good shots.  The pins were in some tough spots, so I was really patient.  And birdieing 11, I played that hole really smart.  Then holing the bunker shot on 12 really gave me the momentum to go in the right direction.

“I felt like Robert and I really had a good time, and Zach for that matter.  But Robert and I were kind of going back and forth.  We enjoyed that.  Both making the putts on 16, and then, yeah, it just came down to 18.  I didn’t want to give him a chance to make that putt to tie me.  So thankfully, I rolled mine in and got it done.”

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Meanwhile, Garrigus was six-over in his first eight holes on Thursday. I can only imagine what Garrigus and his caddie Brent Henley (Kip’s brother) were saying at that point. Well, we found out.

“(Brent) told me in the 18th fairway (during the first round at Palmer Private) when I was six-over, ‘Well, we’re probably not going to win the tournament, but let’s do something,'” said Garrigus in his presser on Sunday.

“I looked at him and I’m like, ‘You know how many birdies and eagles I could make from here on out?’

“And he’s like, ’30?’

“I said, ‘Yeah, I think that’s a good number.’ And I made birdie on 18 (on Thursday), then I made a birdie and another birdie and an eagle and made a bogey and then birdied — it was just crazy how the week went because (Brent’s) like, ‘That was probably the best tournament I’ve ever seen in my entire life.’  Just because of the what we were thinking of on the 18th fairway on Thursday to what I was thinking of on the 18th fairway (Sunday).

“‘I’m like, Can you believe we actually have a shot to win this thing if I make this eagle putt?  It was exciting and that’s what we live for. And I got a lot of guts, and I don’t like to lay down very easily. We had so much fun this week, and especially the 61.  It could have been 54.  I was making everything, and anything that didn’t go in just hit the lip.  It was a blast.  I’ll never forget it.”

Even though Garrigus didn’t entirely complete the comeback, it was a very impressive effort. (It seemed like he had the adrenaline rushing through his veins coming down the stretch because he was getting a little quick.)

In the spirit of golf (and sport) cliches, it was a fine example that it’s a marathon, not a race; 72-holes is a lot of golf. And you know what they say, you can’t win the tournament in the first round, but you can certainly lose it.

 (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)