A long day for Wilson ends in victory

By Doug FergusonJanuary 17, 2011, 8:25 am

2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU – Mark Wilson barely had time to eat a sandwich, much less keep track of his round, when he arrived at the 17th green Sunday afternoon at the Sony Open and realized he had not made a single bogey during this 36-hole marathon.

His four-shot lead had dwindled to a stroke. Wilson was staring at a 12-foot par putt, and the closing hole was a par 5 that he had not been able to reach all week.

The thought was fleeting. The way his week had gone, the outcome was predictable.

“I thought about that before I hit the putt,” Wilson said. “I haven’t made a bogey all day, so why start now? It entered my mind, but when I was over the putt, I didn’t think about it.”

The putt curled in the side, and Wilson started his season with a win to earn his first trip to the Masters.

Wilson shot a 5-under 65 in the morning to take a one-shot lead into the afternoon round. With six minutes between rounds – enough time to get a chicken sandwich and a fresh box of golf balls from his locker – he closed with a 3-under 67 and held off late runs by Tim Clark and Steve Marino on different sides of Waialae.

Wilson’s last trip to Augusta National was 2001 – as a spectator.

“I get goose bumps thinking about it,” he said.

He nearly got chills watching Marino give himself one last chance with a remarkable shot. Clark had already finished with a 64 and was on the practice range at 14-under par. Marino was 13 under and needed an eagle, which looked improbable when his drive splashed out of the bunker and onto the side of a hill.

With his feet in the sand, and the ball about chest-high on the hill, Marino lashed at it with a fairway metal and watched it hook onto the front of the green and stop 40 feet away.

“I saw the ball, and I thought, ‘OK, eagle is going to be pretty tough for him to make.’ It was one incredible shot,” Wilson said.

Marino’s eagle putt narrowly missed, and Wilson pitched to 4 feet and made a birdie he didn’t need. He finished at 16-under 264 and earned $990,000 for his third career victory.

Clark, who started the final round five shots behind, birdied three of his last four holes. He had a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 8 slide by on the left, and he narrowly missed a 15-foot eagle putt on the last hole.

“It’s a relief to get it in,” Wilson said. “I’m just thrilled to be the champion.”

Wilson played his final 40 holes at Waialae without a bogey. That proved significant twice during his final round, starting on No. 8. He hit a tree with his drive and had to punch out to the fairway, leaving him 150 yards away with his third shot and his lead at two shots. But he stuffed it to 7 feet for par, then birdied the ninth to expand his lead to four.

Jimmy Walker closed with a 68 to finish alone in fourth, while Matt Kuchar and Matt Bettencourt were another shot back. Stuart Appleby and Shigeki Maruyama, who started Sunday tied for the 36-hole lead, never got going. Maruyama thad rounds of 70-69 to tie for seventh, his first top 10 on the PGA Tour in two years. Appleby had a third-round 69, then didn’t make a birdie until the final hole of the last round and shot 72.

From top to bottom, 56 players were separated by only seven shots going into the final 36 holes, a recipe for anyone winning from anywhere. But on a quiet day near the shores of Waikiki, there was little movement.

Wilson chipped in from behind the third green for birdie and kept bogeys off his card a 65, the best score of the third round. It gave him a one-shot lead over Marino, who had a 66, but certainly not much room for error.

Kuchar pulled within one shot early in the fourth round, then dropped out with two straight bogeys. Marino stayed in the picture until a bogey on the eighth, failing to birdie the easy par-5 ninth, and hitting two poor wedges for a bogey on the short 10th.

The big move came from Clark, and he was on the other side of the course.

Because of the 36-hole final – forced by a washout in the first round Thursday – players did not change groups for the afternoon. Clark started the day six shots out of the lead, shot 66 in the morning and made his move on the front nine – his last nine holes. His birdie on No. 6 took him to 12 under, then he nearly made an ace on the par-3 seventh for a tap-in birdie and gave himself two good looks at the end.

“I kind of figured if you could get it going around here, I might still have a chance, even though we were on different nines,” Clark said. “This back nine, I kind of got it going there with some iron shots. A few putts would have helped, but very pleased.”

With the runner-up finish, Clark should move to No. 20 in the world. With Charl Schwartzel winning the Joburg Open earlier Sunday, that means South Africans will occupy the first five spots in the Presidents Cup standings.

Wilson won the Honda Classic in 2007, and a month later Augusta National changed its criteria to invite most PGA Tour winners. He won in Mexico two years later, but that doesn’t count toward the Masters because it is an opposite-field tournament.

Wilson finally returns to Augusta as a player, and he can only hope his celebration ends by April.

“From what I’ve learned over the years is the more you succeed out here, the more people expect of you,” Wilson said. “But I’m going to enjoy this like crazy.”

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.