Sometimes the short guys win. By short, I mean short-hitting — not that all PGA Tour pros don’t hit it a long ways, but relative to the bombers. Waialae Country Club favors target golf and accuracy over power and distance. Mark Wilson endured the 36-hole Sunday, firing scores of 65-67 to win the Sony Open by two shots over Tim Clark.
“This is one of my favorite courses of the year,” said Wilson. “It doesn’t really favor longer hitters in my opinion or the shorter hitters; you’ve got to hit it straight, deep rough, and I’m just thrilled to be the champion.”
Added co-runner-up Tim Clark, “I think that everyone enjoys playing this golf course because it does test everything and you have to hit it straight. It’s definitely a nice way to start the year and see how the game is. I certainly come here feeling like I have a chance to win or to play well on this golf course. These are the kind of weeks that I have to come out and play because the course does suit me.”
Wilson led by four shots when he made the turn to his last nine holes. But Tim Clark and Steve Marino carried out late runs, creating some excitement and uncertainty coming down the stretch. When Clark teed off in the final round, he was five shots off the lead, but a fantastic six-under 64 brought him to within a shot of Wilson, who still had quite a few holes to play. Clark birdied three of the last four holes and his eagle putt on No. 9 (his 18th) just narrowly missed.
Marino also birdied three of the last four and narrowly missed a long eagle putt on 18. It wouldn’t have mattered, though, since Wilson capped off his round with a birdie to win by two.
Interestingly enough, Wilson, who notched his third-career PGA Tour victory, didn’t look at leaderboards all day. I mean, how can you miss them? I guess for some guys, watching the leaderboard causes added stress. After all, you can only play your own game. But at the same time, if you’re down a few shots, you want to know what you have to do to catch up, so you might play more aggressive. Or if you’re leading, you might play more conservatively so you don’t make mistakes. There’s no right answer.
But I digress.
“I didn’t really look at the leaderboard all day, I just kind of knew what a good score was and I kind of knew that I had to be near the top because the cameras don’t really follow me unless I”m near the top and they were following me, so I thought that was a good sign,” said Wilson.
The best part of the win? Wilson gets an invitation to The Masters for the first time in his career.
“Believe me, I looked at the fine print on that one and made sure,” said Wilson. “I thought it was a calendar year when they first announced it and I was really excited, but no, it was from Masters to Masters so I didn’t get in. When I won Mayakoba all my friends thought I was in, but opposite events don’t get you in.”
“You know, I”m anxious to play. Maybe a little scared about the length, though, from what I’ve heard. Some of the shorter hitters talk about how it’s kind of eliminated them from the field, like I hear Tom Watson talk about it. But I’m going to go in there with — I get goosebumps thinking about it, to be honest with you.”
I just got goosebumps hearing him talk about it (and more typing the quote).
(AP Photo/Marco Garcia)