Inspirational Mother Sees Sons Dream Come True

By Associated PressApril 3, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- She has spent a lifetime on the windward side of Oahu, paradise in the eyes of many.
 
Grace Wilson found her own slice of heaven Tuesday morning amid the brilliance of spring at Augusta National. Walking down a hill toward the sixth green, she stopped for a picture in front of pink and red azaleas, keeping her eyes fixed on the most beautiful sight of all.
 
There was her son, Dean Wilson, getting ready for his first Masters.
 
This was the same child she drove to Pali Golf Course with the only set of golf clubs in their house. She would use the even-numbered Spalding Elite irons, he would use the odd-numbered ones. She couldn't afford to splurge on his own clubs until he showed he was serious.
 
'I always dreamed that someday Dean would get here,' she said. 'But you shouldn't set your expectations so high. Well, I didn't. But I always felt like Dean did.'
 
Wilson, 37, earned his way with a victory last summer at the International that enabled him to finish No. 22 on the PGA TOUR money list.
 
He is not the first player from Hawaii to compete in the Masters. He isn't even the only one this year; he played a practice round Tuesday with Casey Watabu, the U.S. Amateur Public Links champion.
 
But few have come so far, notwithstanding that big water hazard separating Hawaii from the mainland.
 
Wilson isn't even sure how he got hooked on the game. His mother taught physical education at Castle High School in Kaneohe and played golf enough to shoot the occasional round in the high 70s.
 
'He got started late,' Mrs. Wilson said. 'He was 12 or 13, and golf wasn't the most popular sport in Hawaii for kids. But one day, out of the clear blue sky, he said to me, 'Mom, would you take me to the golf course?''
 
So began an amazing journey -- hired hand in a golf repair shop, the best junior in Hawaii, a walk-on at BYU, three years on the Japanese tour and fame for the longest time on the PGA TOUR as the guy who played with Annika Sorenstam.
 
Turns out Wilson was the perfect guy for that historic occasion at Colonial.
 
'He worked so hard on his game,' Mrs. Wilson said. 'He didn't really start to play a lot until right before high school, but he made the high school team. There were only five players on the team, and three of them were girls.'
 
He was determined, sure, and that was fueled by the clubs in his bag.
 
As a teenager, Wilson took a job at A-1 Golfworx, a repair shop at Bay View Driving Range. He had learned to shaft and grip clubs, and found enough clubs in the lost-and-found bin to finally have his own set.
 
'The shafts cost $4 and the grips were 69 cents,' Wilson said. 'I made a full set, but every single head was different -- Spalding, Wilson, Top-Flite, all different lofts. But that taught me how equipment worked. And it had a big impact on my mental development. Guys I would play against would look at my clubs and laugh. That made me feel like, 'I'm going to kick your butt with these clubs.''
 
And he did.
 
But it wasn't enough to get noticed, not on an island in the middle of the Pacific. The best juniors go to Torrey Pines in San Diego for the Junior World Championship, but Wilson went only one year because his family couldn't afford such a big trip.
 
'I was so ignorant about tournament golf,' Mrs. Wilson said. 'I just turned him loose in the junior golf programs. I took him to the golf course, but that was it. I didn't know anything about national tournaments. And financially, we couldn't afford it.'
 
The one year he went to Torrey Pines, the junior golf program paid for it.
 
Wilson was the best junior in Hawaii, but the only scholarship offer came from BYU-Hawaii. The golf program ended after his first year.
 
He went to the main BYU campus in Utah as a walk-on, where he was roommates with a Canadian kid named Mike Weir. They remain best friends, and played a practice round Tuesday with Watabu in tow.
 
'He was a hard worker,' Weir said. 'When I was in college, I didn't really work on my golf swing. He was really the first guy on our team working on his swing.'
 
Wilson didn't always make the traveling squad because priority was given to the scholarship players. There were times when he complained, and he got the same answer from coach Karl Tucker. It's a line they still laugh about to this day.
 
'He told me, 'For all I care, you can paddle your canoe back to wherever you came from,'' Wilson said.
 
He paddled all over the world, from the mini-tours in his 20s, to Japan for three years where he was rookie of the year in 2000, and a three-time winner the following season. He finally made it to the PGA TOUR in 2003, and rookie status is what put him in the same group with Sorenstam at the Colonial.
 
It has been a grind to keep his card at times, but his playoff victory over Tom Lehman at the International earned him a two-year exemption, and ultimately a trip to the Masters.
 
Mrs. Wilson tries to go to three tournaments a year, but she never expected a trip the first full week of April, to a major that her son used to tape on television and watch over and over.
 
'One year that (Nick) Faldo won, Dean took his picture from a magazine, cut off his head and put his picture on there,' she said. 'I wish I still had that picture.'
 
This was better. This was real.
 
And as she walked up fairways she never realized were so steep, she remembered where it began.
 
'Mom, would you take me to the golf course?'
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Masters Tournament
     
    Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

    The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

    The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

    After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

    “I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”

    Getty Images

    Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:32 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.

    Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.

    “I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.

    To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.

    “More punishment,” he said.

    Getty Images

    DJ, Thomas miss cut at Open; No. 1 up for grabs

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The top two players in the world both missed the cut at The Open, creating the possibility of a shakeup at the top of the rankings by the end of the weekend.

    Dustin Johnson became the first world No. 1 since Luke Donald in 2011 to miss the cut at the year’s third major.

    Johnson played solidly for all but the closing stretch. Over two rounds, he was 6 over par on the last three holes. He finished at 6-over 148.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Thomas added to what’s been a surprisingly poor Open record. Just like last year, when he struggled in the second round in the rain at Royal Birkdale, Thomas slumped to a 77 on Friday at Carnoustie, a round that included three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 6-8. He finished at 4-over 146.

    It’s Thomas' first missed cut since The Open last year. Indeed, in three Open appearances, he has two missed cuts and a tie for 53rd.  

    With Johnson and Thomas out of the mix, the No. 1 spot in the rankings is up for grabs this weekend.

    Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm all can reach No. 1 with a victory this week.

    Getty Images

    TT Postscript: Woods (71) makes cut, has work to do

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 3:32 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods shot a second consecutive even-par 71 Friday in the second round. And yes, he made the cut:

    • Tiger said all 71s are not created equal. On Thursday, he made three birdies and three bogeys. On Friday, he made four birdie and four bogeys. Which round was better? The first. His theory is that, despite the rain, conditions were easier in the second round and there were more scoring opportunities. He didn't take advantage.

    • This is the first time since the 2013 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes that Tiger shot par or better in each of the first two rounds of a major. That’s quite a long time ago.

    • Stat line for the day: 11 of 15 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, 32 total putts. Tiger hit one driver and two 3-woods on Thursday and four drivers on Friday, only one which found the fairway. An errant drive at the second led to him sniping his next shot into the gallery

     


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    • In his own words: “I could have cleaned up the round just a little bit. I got off to not exactly the best start, being 2 over through three, but got it back. The golf course was a little bit softer today, obviously. It rains, and we were able to get the ball down a little bit further, control the ball on the ground a little bit easier today, which was nice.”

    • At some point Tiger is going to have to be more aggressive. He will be quite a few shots off the lead by day’s end and he'll have a lot of ground to make up. Hitting irons off the tee is great for position golf, but it’s often leaving him more than 200 yards into the green. Not exactly a range for easy birdies.

    • Sure, it’s too soon to say Tiger can’t win a fourth claret jug, but with so many big names ahead of him on the leaderboard, it’s unlikely. Keep in mind that a top-six finish would guarantee him a spot in the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks. At The Players, he stated that this was a big goal.

    • My Twitter account got suspended momentarily when Tiger was standing over a birdie putt on the 17th green. That was the most panicked I’ve been since Tiger was in contention at the Valspar.