Quick Round with Mark Wilson

By Randall MellMarch 5, 2010, 2:40 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – When Mark Wilson walks the fairways at PGA National, long-time Honda Classic fans stop and point.

He’s more than the first guy to win the tournament after it moved to the Champion Course in 2007. He’s the guy who won despite calling a two-shot penalty on himself after his caddie broke the Rules of Golf.

Wilson, 35, penalized himself after his caddie, Chris Jones, gave advice on club selection to a fellow competitor on the fifth tee in the second round. After Camilo Villegas asked his caddie what club he thought Wilson hit there, Jones chimed in.

“Oh, it’s an 18-degree hybrid,” Jones told them.

Wilson knew that response violated Rule 8-1 of the Rules of Golf, a rule that forbids a player or caddie from giving advice to anyone but each other, or a partner in match play. The rule falls into a gray area because the rules actually allow players to go up and look in a fellow competitor's bag to see what club's being used.

Wilson went on to beat Jose Coceres, Boo Weekley and Villegas in a playoff for his first PGA Tour title. He did it in dramatic fashion, making birdie at the difficult Bear Trap’s 17th hole. He won the Mayakoba Golf Classic last year for his second title and ended the season 32nd on the FedEx Cup money list, just missing out on a berth in the Tour Championship, which would have gotten him into his first Masters.

Before this week’s Honda Classic began, Wilson sat down for a Quick Round:

Honda Classic fans will always remember you for how you won, for the integrity you showed calling a penalty on yourself. How much are you still asked about it?

I’m amazed how much it lingers and people still talk about it. I truly believed if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have won the tournament. I was going through the motions that week. I just didn’t really have it. The penalty was something that just spurred me on. After that happened, I birdied six holes to put myself in position to even think about winning and I played great on Saturday and ended up prevailing in the playoff.

You didn’t fire your caddie, Chris Jones, for his transgression that day. In fact, you’re still together, right?

This is our fifth year together.

Chris probably thought he was finished as your caddie that day.

We all make mistakes, and it was a big one at the time. I was disappointed. It was a weird situation. He was giving the spec of the club. It wasn’t like he was saying, `Hey, it’s a 5-iron.’ He was saying, `It’s an 18 degree.’ I think in his head he didn’t realize that was wrong. We had a talk when he first started working for me, that this is something we don’t do. Maybe other caddies signal across the tee box to other caddies, but we don’t do that. You might give it to the TV guys, but you don’t give it to other players because that’s cheating. He was distraught, but he’s a positive force on my bag. He helps me a ton. We have good camaraderie, and he knows my game as well as I do.

The rule you penalized your caddie for breaking falls in a kind of gray area and might be one of the most violated rules on tour. Should the rule be changed?

When I think about someone breaking that rule, it’s just laziness. All you have to do is walk over to someone’s bag on the tee box and see which club is missing. If someone can’t do that, it’s just being lazy. I don’t look at the rule as needing to be changed. Overall, I wish caddies and other competitors would hold it in the same regard, because I don’t think everyone does. It’s a tough one in the sense that people who might break the rule would argue, `Hey, I’m just helping out a fellow brother out there. We’re all a family.’ Like they are being nice about it. But it’s against the rules.

Are there any other gray areas in the rules like that which get violated?

The only thing that comes to mind is where a ball last crossed the hazard. Sometimes, when you have a long carry over water, you’re not sure where it crossed. You’re supposed to know 100 percent. You’re supposed to know, `Yes, it crossed that little corner’ and you go up there and take your drop up there. Where you take your drop can save you a couple shots sometimes. That one is a gray area. It’s what you see. You use information you get from marshals but that’s not always right. There are certain players who might bend that slightly. You don’t see it often. I’m just saying, it’s really in the player’s head, if he believes it crossed a certain point, and if he can live with himself.

How often do you see cheating in a year?

I can’t think of an instance. I might occasionally see a caddie flashing what club was hit. Some people might not call that cheating. When I see that, it might have been to the TV guy over my shoulder. I might have thought it was to another player. I can’t think of anything. It’s still a gentleman’s game, and we call penalties on ourselves. I’m still impressed when a guy comes out of the woods and says, `Hey, you know what, my ball moved back there and I replaced it and I added a shot to my score.’

You tamed the Bear Trap (the 15th-17th holes) when you won that first year here at PGA National. You made birdie at the 17th in the playoff to win. There’s a lot of water through those three holes. How tough are they?

You really need to have a lot of confidence on those tee shots, to pick a good line. It’s all about the wind on those holes. You hit some crazy clubs there. That 15th hole last year played into the wind every day, and I’m hitting 4-iron. Same on the 17th, I was hitting 3- and 4-irons. In wind, it accentuates any spin you put on the ball. It may balloon or slice into the water. But you can also make birdies through there. If you hit quality shots, you are going to have makeable putts. That’s what is neat about those holes. No lead is safe. You can make 5 and 6 so easy through there.

The 15th and 17th are both tough par 3s. Which is tougher and how do you rank them among the toughest par 3s you play on the PGA Tour?

I think the 17th’s a little tougher. It’s got a little more length. And I think the elevated tee has something to do with it, too, with the wind there. The ball is in the air just a little bit longer. At 15, at least you are level with the green. It seems like a bigger green at the 15th.

I would put both of those par 3s ahead of the 17th at Sawgrass because of the wind. I would put the 12th at Muirfield Village first, that hour-glass green there makes it tough to get the ball in the right quadrant.

You and your wife, Amy, are expecting your first child right around the Masters. If you win an event here before the Masters and qualify to play at Augusta National, what will you do?

My wife and I talked about what would happen if I did get into the Masters. Our baby is due five days after the Masters concludes. I have to qualify first, but with that being said, if I got in the tournament and my wife went into labor, I am leaving the moment I hear. The birth of your child is so important. I have enough confidence in myself that I will get back to the Masters. My goals for the year, really starting the year, have been more spiritual goals than golf goals. I think if I’m in the right frame of mind and my perspective is in the right spot, my golf is going to prosper. I’m focusing more on that.

What kind of spiritual goals?

I’m just trying to get closer to God, Jesus Christ. I’ve just kind of figured that out the last year, my role in the world and the game. I think he’s put me here to draw more people to him. I feel like the stage I have gives me that opportunity, and I don’t want to waste that opportunity sulking about a round. That’s a day you can witness.

You came excruciatingly close to making the Tour Championship last year and all the rewards that come with it. Did that depress you or motivate you?

I took it as encouragement. I had that great week at Cog Hill (before the Tour Championship). I got paired with Tiger on Saturday. I was tied for the lead, on my home course. It was a magical week. I came out flat on Sunday but played well down the stretch. I took an aggressive line on the 18th with a 6-iron. I probably should have hit 5-iron to the fat of the green and taken my chances at making par, but I knew the birdie would have gotten me into the Tour Championship. I made a really solid swing and pulled it slightly in the water. I made a good bogey and walked away with no regrets. I woke up the next morning happy I had my best FedEx Cup showing ever and wasn’t thinking, `Now I’m not in the Masters or the U.S. Open.’ It would have been a lot easier scheduling this year, but it is what it is, and I’ve done things in small steps in my career. It was motivation.

Getty Images

Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 12:50 am

INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas matched the Brickyard Crossing record with a 10-under 62 on Thursday in the Indy Women in Tech Championship, making birdie on the final three holes for a two-stroke lead over fast-starting Angel Yin and Japan's Nasa Hataoka.

Yin birdied eight of the first nine holes in her morning round for a front-nine 8-under 28 - one short of the LPGA Tour's nine-hole record. It matched the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

Salas eagled the par-5 second in the afternoon and added three straight birdies on Nos. 4-6. She birdied Nos. 12 and 14 before reeling off three more in a row to close, waiting out a late 77-minute suspension for an approaching storm.

Salas matched the course record set by Mike McCullough in the PGA Tour Champions' 1999 Comfort Classic.

Getty Images

Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2018, 11:23 pm

GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.

Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''

The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.

Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.

Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.

Getty Images

Peterson confirms plans to play Web.com Finals

By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 9:17 pm

After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals.

Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.

Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.

Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."

The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Web.com Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.

Getty Images

Lyle honored with sand sculpture at Wyndham

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 16, 2018, 9:00 pm

Jarrod Lyle passed away last week at the age of 36 after losing his third battle with cancer.

And after a PGA Championship filled with tributes to the Australian, the Wyndham Championship found its own way to keep his legacy alive at the North Carolina Tour stop.

Next to the Wyndham Championship and PGA Tour logos carved into the sand on site at Sedgefield Country Club is Lyle's name and the "Leuk the Duck" mascot. The duck has become synonymous with Challenge, an organization that supports kids with cancer.

Fellow Aussie Stuart Appleby posted the display on social media:

View this post on Instagram

(Pic update) Brighter is better

A post shared by StuartAppleby (@stuartappleby59) on

Lyle was also remembered in a more traditional manner on the first tee, where his bag and trademark yellow bucket hat were prominently displayed.