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.”

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Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below: