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January 23 2012

2:38 AM

Final update: Wilson finishes strong

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By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Everyone was making birdies. Just not Mark Wilson.

Luckily, though, he had started the day with a three-stroke advantage -- and when Wilson finally got that first birdie putt to drop, there was no stopping him as he played his final eight holes in 4 under on Sunday to win the Humana Challenge by two strokes.

With a flair for the dramatic, Wilson sealed the victory with a 10-foot birdie putt in near darkness on the 18th hole  to beat Robert Garrigus, John Mallinger and Johnson Wagner by two strokes. After making the turn 1 over, Wilson closed with a 69 to earn the fifth victory of his PGA TOUR career.
   
"It was a challenge," Wilson said as he talked about the difficulty of staying patient when birdies were flying all around him. "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."

Wilson regained the lead for good when Garrigus missed a 6-footer for par at the 17th hole. Both then went for the green in two at the par-5 18th with Wilson's 2-hybrid running through to the back fringe some 68 feet away and Garrigus' 5-iron coming up 28 feet short.

Wilson putted first, and his ball stopped 10 feet to the left and short of the pin. Then Garrigus' first putt went 9 feet past. When Wilson made his birdie putt, though, the victory was his.

"I felt like Robert and I really had a good time, and Zach (Johnson, their playing partner) for that matter," Wilson said. "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."

Garrigus had started the Humana Challenge on the back nine of the Palmer Course and he was 6 over as he played the 18th hole that Thursday. But he shot a 61 in the wind-delayed third round and played his final 64 holes in 28 under to have a chance to win.

“Just because of the what we are thinking of on the 18th fairway on Thursday to what I was thinking of on the 18th fairway today, I'm like, Can you believe we actually have a shot to win this thing if I make this eagle putt?’ Garrigus said. “It was just, it was exciting and that's what we live for. And I got a lot of guts, and I don't like to lay down very easily. So it was a blast.

“We had so much fun this week, and especially the 61. It could have been 54. I was making everything and anything that didn't go in just hit the lip. It was a blast. I'll never forget it.”

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