Wilson Enjoys Day in California Desert
For the players in this year's Humana Challenge, the last day of their workweek was a long one. Because Saturday's third round was literally blown away by high winds, the field needed to complete their canceled third rounds Sunday morning, and then took a peek at the leaderboard to see if they made the 54-hole cut before commencing the final 18.
Eventual champion Mark Wilson didn't think Sunday was grueling, but fun. Not only did he play the final round with good friend Robert Garrigus, he polished off his last two rounds of 67 and 69 to win the tournament - the fifth of his career and third in the past 12 months, earning $1.008 million and moving to 40th in the World Golf Ranking and second in the season-long FedEx Cup points list behind Johnson Wagner.
The 37-year-old finished at 24-under 264, two shots ahead of last week's winner Wagner (65), John Mallinger (66) and Garrigus (68).
Wilson and Garrigus waged a back-and-forth affair. Garrigus had the lead late during the back nine, but bogeyed the 17th hole. He had a chance to regain the top spot after hitting the par-5 18th in two, but three-putted from 35 feet for a par. Wilson secured the win with a clutch 10-foot birdie putt - his second in three holes - on the 18th as darkness descended on the Palmer Course at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif.
Wilson was greeted by his two exuberant young sons Cole and Lane on the 18th green at the end of the tournament. Wilson's only misstep of the day came when he accidentally broke the brand-new Bob Hope Memorial Trophy. "It's not my first trophy I've broken," he joked.
Wilson eventually made his way to the media tent where he had the following Q&A with reporters.
MODERATOR: Like to welcome Mark Wilson. Mark, you got to 24 under and won by two strokes. Do you want to talk about your round today and then we'll get some questions.
MARK WILSON: It feels good, obviously, here with the trophy. The day went not as planned, really. I guess it really never does. But last time I came out here, I shot 62, so of course I had those images in mind and made a bad swing on the third hole, and then just kind of hit felt like I hit a lot of good shots. The pins in some tough spots, so I was really patient. And then birdieing 11, I played that hole really smart. And then holing the bunker shot on 12 really gave me the momentum to go in the right direction. I felt like Robert and I really had a good time, and Zach for that matter. But Robert and I were kind of going back and forth. We enjoyed that. Both making the putts on 16, and then, yeah, it just came down to 18. I didn't want to give him a chance to make that putt to tie me. So thankfully I rolled mine in and got it done.
Q. When you say you enjoyed it, did you really enjoy it, meaning golf course back and forth and having all that?
MARK WILSON: Oh, yeah. That's what we play for. You want somebody to win it, not necessarily lose it. So it was neat to have him making birdies back and forth. And I don't look at the leaderboards really, and I just happened to glance on 17 to see what was going on. Obviously John Mallinger was doing well, had a chance to birdie 18. But I reminded myself of that, I'm in position. You have a lot of thoughts go through your head, Am I going to come out and play well and win or am I going to come out and play flat and finish 10th or am I going to have a horrible day and finish close to the bottom. You just don't know. I just tried to clear my head of that and said, This is what we play for, let's enjoy the day. Win or lose, let's try to be a good example out there.
Q. Talk about the birdie at 18. Obviously it was getting pretty dark out there. Was there any problems with that? Obviously you made the putt, so it couldn't have been too much probably?
MARK WILSON: It was harder to read the green. It was never a question of whether I should go for it or not, but I took a club that as long as I hit it solid, it was probably going to go to the back fringe. I hit a 2 hybrid. 3 hybrid would have been a perfect club to get the ball pin high, but I didn't want to take a chance on hitting it maybe a little bit a groove down and having it come down in the water. So I wanted to make my mistake long. When I got over that putt and read it, it just looked like it should be faster over that hill and it just the darkness had a little something to do with it. Then Chris my caddie, read that one perfectly, said it was going to break about an inch to the right and I started outside the hole, which I wasn't totally trying to do, but it took that inch break at the very end.
Q. How hard was it to stay patient on the front nine and not get discouraged?
MARK WILSON: Yeah, it was a challenge. No question about it. It was just a lot of the pins were in tough spots, like number 7. I thought it was just hard for me to get the ball close there. No. 2 was a great example. Hit a great 3 hybrid in there that landed on the front of the green, went over and it was in a tough spot to get up and down. So it was a challenge, but I guess my experience helped me in this situation knowing that, Hey, there's a lot of golf left, maybe I want it make my birdies at the end of the round, and thankfully that's what I did this time.
Q. There was some points when you were blowing on your hands. Obviously it was getting cold and dark. Can you just talk about what it's like to play in conditions that change that rapidly. How much did you want to finish today no matter what?
MARK WILSON: Definitely wanted to finish for sure. I think everybody here wanted to finish. Just put this in the record books and be done, the paper tomorrow morning will talk about it, we don't have to come out for a playoff or something like that. So I think everyone's thrilled. But we know that's what happens over there behind those holes, 14, 15, 16, 17, the sun goes down behind the mountain and then you - it gets a little chilly, but not chilly enough where I wanted to put my sweater only. I played in short sleeves all day I didn't want to put my sweater on the last hole. That's why I was blowing on my hands to get them warm enough to get that last hole in.
Q. How come, everybody else seemed to be putting sweaters on?
MARK WILSON: A little superstitious I guess. It's a feel thing, too. I've been swinging with just short sleeves all day, and then to put it on for the last hole, it's like a new feeling and I just didn't want a new feeling because everything was going well.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the last two years and getting off to a fast start early in the season and what is behind that do you think?
MARK WILSON: The only thing can I think of is that the break in November and December, I can clear my mind of golf. I tend to remember the good things I did the season before, and when I come out the last two years, I really just had a clear mind and really focusing on what I'm doing, not worrying about my standing in the world rankings or my standing in the Money List or FedEx Cup or how I'm doing against or the players that week. I feel like I'm more into my zone. So I've altered my schedule this year with a two and a three week break in the middle of the season to try to simulate that. And we'll see how that works.
Q. When he missed the putt on 17 and you had the one shot lead, did you feel like this was yours to grab now?
MARK WILSON: Yeah, but 18 people can make eagles pretty easily with a good iron shot. Especially Robert. He hits it. He can get it down there and have a 6 or 7 iron in. So that's what makes the finish to this tournament usually pretty dramatic because you never know what's going to happen. But I would certainly like to be one ahead instead of tied standing on the 18th tee.
Q. And talk about the dueling birdies at 16.
MARK WILSON: Yeah, that was fun. We both hit very nice wedges in there and I hit a great putt. It looked like it was maybe not going to catch the left edge, but it caught the edge and dropped. And then Robert rolled his on top. And then as we walked off the green, I think he said something about back and forth we go, back and forth we go. So he was really enjoying it like I was.
Q. What time did you get up this morning and how long a day was it? Robert talked about the length of the day.
MARK WILSON: That finish of the third round seems like another day. It really does. I woke up at 5:15 and got to the course at 6 o'clock at La Quinta. And then played three holes and then went back to my I'm staying at my in laws who live at Ironwood in Palm Desert. So I went back there and played with the kids and hung out a little bit, helped my wife get the kids ready for school today. Well, the Tour daycare, I guess we call it school. And then I was on my way at about 10 o'clock, knowing I was going tee off around noon. So I left the house again at 10 to get here at 10:30 to go through my normal stretch and warm up. But it was a long day, yes.
Q. What were conditions like at La Quinta today, could you see any of the damage that had happened yesterday?
MARK WILSON: Yeah. They got a lot of clean up to do. That's for sure. Yeah. Trees are down and palm leaves and everything. Whatever you call those. They're everywhere, yeah. And it wasn't as cold. Obviously with the blanket of the clouds and the wind overnight, it really wasn't as cold. And that affected me early, actually. Hit a shot over the green on my very first hole today because I was playing for a little cold with the ball, where the ball usually goes shorter in the cold. But, no, it was fine. The greens over there are beautiful and it the stuff that was the debris that was around didn't affect our play.
Q. Could you maybe make an argument that you won the tournament yesterday at La Quinta by not getting blown off the golf course when the wind really started?
MARK WILSON: I think that is where I did win it. Because I chipped in twice, I holed a wedge for an eagle and chipped in for an eagle while the wind wasn't up. I got off to a good start there, 4 under through my first four holes. And just kind of maintained that all day. So shooting 67 over there in those windy conditions, I agree, I think that was a key to winning this week.
Q. Making pars when the wind was blowing at the end right?
MARK WILSON: That's right. Yeah. Yeah.
Q. Where is your cheesehead this year?
MARK WILSON: Well, they're not in the playoffs anymore. They lost early. So no cheese heads. No jerseys next week or anything like that. But David Feherty was giving us updates on the football games, which was fun. Kind of kept it lose. I don't know if the Giants and Niners are still playing, but the other game I know was pretty exciting.
Q. I realize the trophy is yours, but did you have to break it so soon?
MARK WILSON: I know. I know. (Laughter.) Yeah. It's not my first trophy I've broken. Mayacoba that I won, it's like a chameleon, I don't know, and one of the feet broke off, I think in transit. I took it out of the box and one of the feet, but Super Glue is a magical thing.
Q. You did yesterday, even though it was extreme, what is in your background that maybe helped you play so well in the wind?
MARK WILSON: Experience. I've seen all kinds of different conditions like that. I grew up on a golf course that was a lot - a very windy golf course. And I think just playing within yourself. I've learned to not hit the same shots you would in good conditions. I was hitting a lot of low runners and hitting some weird clubs from yardages that didn't make sense just because I wanted to keep the ball out of the wind. So I've learned as I've gone, just to kind of play with the elements, let the elements, use the element toss your advantage instead of trying to fight them.
Q. Any other superstitions?
MARK WILSON: Probably not superstitions more rituals I would say. Yeah, a lot of things that I do the same. I always start every round with two long tees, one short tee, and a quarter and a penny and a divot fixer in my pocket. But if you ask most guys on Tour, it's very similar. I'm not just grabbing a bunch of tees on the tee.
Q. Is that for regularity so to speak?
MARK WILSON: Yeah. Yeah. Keep - if I can keep control, there's so many things I can control, and that's one thing I can control. A lot of things I can't. I can't control my opponents, bounces or the roll on the green. I might misread a putt here or there, so try to control what I can.
Q. Could you absolutely see everything about the last putt that you wanted to? Even if it was a little dark, were you confident that you could see what you wanted to do?
MARK WILSON: Yeah, and I've had experience, I had that putt before in other tournaments. So I do remember that one being a little slower and kind of going to the right. So I used that. Felt like since it's a shorter putt, it was probably only 14 feet, I could see that line a little bit better than the original 60 footer I had or whatever it was.
Q. After the sun went down and it started getting dark, were you getting moisture on the greens?
MARK WILSON: No, not yet. No. Not at all.
MODERATOR: All right thanks a lot, Mark. Congratulations.
MARK WILSON: Thanks, Mark.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.