At 118th on the money list, Dean Wilson isn’t exactly in what you’d call a comfortable position. He is in position, however, to improve on that significantly after an opening-round 67 Thursday at the Viking Classic, where he had just one bogey and six birdies.
Part of the story for Wilson, who missed his last two cuts and last teed it up a few weeks ago at The Barclays, was putting. He took just 27 putts on the day and missed only one from inside 10 feet.
After three straight seasons of topping the $1 million mark in earnings, Wilson’s career hit a snag last year with a back injury and as a result he tumbled to 152nd on the money list. Translation: He’s playing on past champion status this year. That’s meant a limited schedule for the winner of the 2006 International, who has played in 13 events and earned just under $700,000 -- meaning that a good week here would go a long way for Wilson.
“Last year didn't work out as planned,” Wilson said earlier this season. “I'm not making an excuse, but it's hard to -- when your back hurts a little bit, and maybe I'll try to rest. I love to practice. I love to play and practice, and started to get into my attitude where I started to get a bad attitude, and you can't have that on TOUR when you're fighting every week.
“That time away makes you think about what you don't have. And sometimes when you're playing, every guy goes through it, you're playing tournament after tournament after tournament and things don't go your way, awe, I've got next week. You know, I don't have next week. So I've gotta take advantage of the rounds that I have.”
He certainly did that on Thursday. Wilson’s 67 leaves him just one shot off the lead. -- Brian Wacker
Dean Wilson obviously isn’t letting last week’s final-round 72, which cost him the RBC Canadian Open, keep him down, despite apparently battling a flu bug this week.
“Finally just barely got my voice back today. I've had other issues to worry about,” said Wilson, who shot a 66 in the opening round of The Greenbrier Classic. “I took a lot of positives from last week. I played well and put myself in contention. I know I didn't get the job done, but Carl [Pettersson] played great."
Wilson knows he’s going to need more of those 66s, though, to keep pace.
“It's a little soft out there, so I think guys are going to be shooting at pins and making a lot of birdies,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of the people that are hitting wedges, so I'm sure the scores are going to be low.” -- Brian Wacker
Better late than never, at least if you’re Dean Wilson, who climbed inside the top 125 on the FedExCup points list with his runner-up last week in Canada. And even though Wilson squandered a five-shot lead last Sunday, he’s continued to play well this week, posting an opening-round 66 that has him currently one shot off the lead.
Despite needing 31 putts on Thursday, Wilson made just one bogey -- it also helped he missed just two greens in regulation.
Prior to last week, Wilson had missed five of his previous six cuts. -- Brian Wacker
Dean Wilson didn't mince words. He's disappointed. Disappointed he didn't win the tournament his BYU teammate, Mike Weir, still hasn't won. The two teammates now have something else in common: a second place finish in the RBC Canadian Open, and it doesn't feel very good.
Wilson, who had a four-shot lead after 54 holes, needed a win -- and a win only -- to get the card back he lost after the 2009 season. Just like that, his card was gone, relegated to writing sponsor exemption requests and relying on a past champion status to get into events. So far, he's played nine of them, including this week, when RBC Canadian Open officials gave him a coveted sponsor exemption spot.
And it nearly paid off in a huge way.
Wilson led at one point Sunday by five, but he couldn't stop Carl Pettersson, who was in the midst of a birdie binge just as Wilson missed the green on the short par-4 14th. Wilson ended up bogeying the hole, while Pettersson birdied it for his fifth birdie in sixth holes. His lead was gone.
"I just didn't execute," Wilson said about the shot on No. 14. "I caught that ball a little thin and it rolled over the green, and I paid the price."
That price ended up being a punched ticket to the SBS Championship and the Sony Open Hawaii, the two events that kick off the season that just happen to be held in his home state. Along with a two-year PGA TOUR exemption.
But all is not lost. Wilson's solo second -- he secured it with two gritty pars on the 71st and 72nd holes -- puts him at 110th on the money list and in good shape to get his card back, which is a lot more than he had when he started the week.
"It's tough, you know. Like I said, if you told me at the beginning of the week I could have second by myself, I would have taken it skipping," Wilson said. "And I'm happy with moving up on the money list, moving up on the FedExCup point list. Hopefully I'm up high enough, maybe I can get in some FedExCup events, the first one maybe. I don't know where it puts me, but I need to move up a little bit to assure my card so I don't have to go to TOUR school next year."
Another good thing: Wilson was an alternate for this week's Greenbrier Classic. No more. He's in. But he knows he is going to have to grind hard to make up for what could have been on Sunday.
"I'm not going to get in very many tournaments from here on out," Wilson said. "I'll get in next week, and we'll see, maybe I can get another sponsor invite here and there, but I'm going to have to make a few more bucks to get into the top 125."
My, how things have changed at St. George's. Carl Pettersson rolled in a 15-footer on the par-4 14th for his fifth birdie of the day, putting him at 14 under as he guns for his first win since the 2008 Wyndham Championship.
Dean Wilson, on the other hand, encountered a messy 14th. He missed the green despite a perfect drive and failed to get up and down.
Pettersson now has the lead by himself for the first time since the third round, when he led by one after his early-morning 60.
Dean Wilson missed the green on the short par-4 12th and failed to get up and down and now leads Luke Donald and Tim Clark by just two.
Donald has a huge advantage -- he is already on the 17th green and will be in the clubhouse long before Dean Wilson heads to the very difficult three-hole stretch.
It is starting to look like Dean Wilson's tournament -- if he can avoid some big numbers down the stretch. The course is playing much tougher on Sunday, but no one is going low in the afternoon to put any pressure on Wilson.
The best rounds among the later groups? Luke Donald and Brendan de Jonge, who are each 4 under on the day.
Dean Wilson's lead is back to three, when, as expected, he birdied the medium par-5 ninth for the third time this week.
Wilson hasn't dominated St. George's three par-5s this week, having posted four birdies in 10 tries after his four on the ninth.
Dean Wilson has been birdie-free so far in what has to be a pressure-packed final round for him. The greens are dried out, and for someone who has relied on spectacular putting all week, it certainly must be a different experience.
Wilson's ball-striking has been spotty as he tries to win and regain the TOUR card he lost after the 2009 season. Wilson just missed the green on the par-3 eighth and didn't come close to getting up and down for his first bogey since the 16th hole on Saturday.
Wilson has a string of pushover holes coming up, which will likely be his last chance to pad his lead.
CBS has just hit the air, and their images are a stark contrast from Saturday, when a pelting rain soaked the final few groups.
As soon as CBS went live, they showed leader Dean Wilson pushing his approach well right on the par-4 seventh. Wilson has hot only two fairways so far, but he's scrambled his way to six pars to open his round.