Here's a good example of Dean Wilson's current status on the PGA TOUR: he's still an alternate for next week's Greenbrier Classic. That how tough it's been for him to get into events on his past champion status.
Granted, he won his tournament (The International) only four years ago, so he's been able to get into nine events. That is not bad for someone without any other status, and he knows it. For him to be leading the RBC Canadian Open after 54 holes is like playing with the house's money.
"I'm a little more appreciative of getting in tournaments and playing and being out here and fighting and being in the battle," said Wilson, who turns 41 later this year. "So yeah, that time away makes you think about, you know, 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, aw, 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, and I think that's my attitude now. I think it's a lot better."
Wilson tees off with Carl Pettersson with the lead at 1:45 p.m. ET, but he likes the later start.
"Anytime I have a late tee time, it feels good," Wilson said. "Those ones where I have to tee off at 7 a.m. or something on Thursday or Friday, it's tough to get some good sleep."
Dean Wilson said after the third round that he was inspired by Matt Bettencourt's outta-nowhere win last week at the Reno-Tahoe Open, where Bettencourt reversed a miserable year with an upset victory.
"You know, he wasn't playing his best; he was missing some cuts and he wins. And Bob Heintz wasn't playing too well and he was up there," Wilson said. "So I tried to talk myself into it, say, hey, I've got it. Just give me the chance; and if these guys can do it, I can do it, too. And just keep fighting, and that's the great thing about golf. You know, anything can happen. "
"No one expected Louis Oosthuizen to win the British Open, but he just mowed over everybody and played great golf, and you never know when it's going to happen, so you just have to keep fighting and stick to it."
As mentioned earlier, Wilson lost his card after a miserable 2009 season in which he battled injuries that kept him from working on his game as much as he'd like. He's got a lot riding on the final round, and the nervousness is not something he can control. He's used to it.
"I played well [under pressure] when I won in Japan six times, and any time you can get any kind of win under your belt, it helps," Wilson said. "And you know, for me at the time over there, they were huge wins for me."
"And I was as nervous as I could get, and even playing state opens and things before I got on TOUR, I needed to win those tournaments to keep going, and I was as nervous as I could be; so I bank on those memories and try to keep pushing forward."
For a guy who has a lot riding on this week, Dean Wilson has been awfully cool at St. George's.
Wilson was 183 yards out on his approach to the par-4 18th, but he stuck it to five feet and sank the putt to reach 15 under, four shots ahead of Tim Clark, who bogeyed the 18th for a 69.
Wilson's three rounds have been exactly the same -- 65-65-65 with 26 putts in each round. He also hit 13 greens in each round.
Dean Wilson and Tim Clark both birdied the par-5 15th after pitching their third shots close, putting the two men ahead of the gaggle as the third round winds down in Canada.
Wilson's 8-footer for birdie was the latest in a series of one-putts that have him on the verge of the 54-hole lead and a life-changing win this week. As mentioned earlier, his game has hit the skids the last two years, but he's hit the ball well this week and performed on a Crenshaw-like level on the greens.
Still, it is looking more and more apparent that he will have to deal with Tim Clark the rest of the way. Clark hasn't sunk nearly as many putts as Wilson, but the pesky South African has driven the ball straight all week and leads the field in greens in regulation.
Dean Wilson took advantage of Tim Clark's first bogey of the week -- he birdied the par-5 ninth to go out in 32 and take over the outright lead.
Wilson remains the answer to a pretty good trivia question: Name the only PGA TOUR player in history to win, but never one at stroke play. Wilson won the 2006 INTERNATIONAL, which used the Stableford format.
Dean Wilson's face is everywhere if you watch The GOLF Channel, if only for the abundance of Stack-and-Tilt commercials. Wilson has used the unusual swing for years, and a recent session with the swing's main proponents has helped him regain confidence in his game, which is a good thing, because he needs to regain his TOUR card.
Wilson, who tees off at 1:50 p.m. ET after sharing the Round 2 lead, lost his card after the 2009 season and had gotten into only eight events so far in 2010. Eight events, and only three cuts made. As a result, he's fallen to 522nd in the Official World Golf Ranking after hitting a high of 70th during his career year of 2006.
The reason behind his 65-65 start at St. George's Golf & Country Club? A long session with swing coaches Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett before the tournament.
"They worked hard with me on the Tuesday, Wednesday. And it carried over and struck the ball a lot better than I have been," Wilson said.
The last two months haven’t exactly been kind to Dean Wilson with five missed cuts in his last six starts. He’s hoping his opening-round 65 will help spark a turnaround, though -- especially after putting in some time with swing coaches Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer.
Wilson, who switched to the stack-and-tilt swing a few years ago, said Thursday that his swing had become too long at the top and in the follow through. The result was a slower clubhead speed and an approach that was too shallow.
After working with Bennett and Plummer the last couple of days, though, Wilson is back to a shorter swing tat compresses the ball much better, he said. The end result, of course, was a bogey-free day.
If that wasn’t enough, he’s also battling plantar fasciitis in his left foot. While Wilson said it doesn’t bother him while he’s hitting shots, it does slow him down. “It just takes me a little longer to get to the ball,” Wilson joked. The way he played Thursday, however, he didn’t seem to mind. -- Brian Wacker
This year’s RBC Canadian Open is a little different. For one, players are going off the first and ninth tees instead of Nos. 1 and 10 because the ninth hole is about 600 yards closer to the clubhouse than the 10th is. Also, the driving range is off-property. For another, St. George’s is playing host to the event for the first time since 1968.
“Very impressed. It's obviously old school. It's tough,” Paul Casey said earlier this week of the new venue. “Gotta keep the ball below the hole. Gotta keep the ball in the fairway.
“I think there are plenty of birdies out there, but it's incredibly easy to make bogeys.”
That hasn’t been the case so far, though -- Rich Barcelo is 6 under through 11 holes, while Dean Wilson is the early clubhouse leader at 5 under after five birdies, no bogeys and 26 putts. -- Brian Wacker