By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Mark Wilson has set the bar high.
He and his wife Amy, who is president of the PGA TOUR Wives Association, recently started a lectureship series at Indiana. Amy, who is a 1999 graduate of Indiana's Kelley School of Business, remembers attending free lectures when she was a student there and a member of Delta Gamma sorority.
So first, Mark put together the Spikes for Speakers Golf Classic Pro-Am, which was held on the IU championship course. Among the 12 pros participating were former Hoosiers Jeff Overton, Shaun Micheel and Stephen Wheatcroft. The event raised $100,000 to endow the lectureship series.
Then Wilson brought in the really big guns -- asking Jack Nicklaus to be the first speaker. All Nicklaus wanted in return was to try to raise some more money for charity so a dinner was arranged prior to his lecture that raised $75,000 for The First Tee of Central Indiana.
"We had just a really fun evening," Wilson said. "He was there with us for probably five hours. And I kept saying over and over, 'Thank you. Thank you so much. I know these are so tough to do and we really appreciate it.' And he find finally looked at me and said, 'It's okay. It's okay, Mark. I enjoy doing this for you guys.'
"I think at the stage of his career he's, what, 73 years old now? He probably enjoys reminiscing, because they're going to ask him about his accomplishments and he can candidly talk about them-- instead of personally I know I have to go tee it up in a couple days, so I'm not going to share everything with you guys that I'm working on. Whereas, he's done with his career basically, in terms of competitive golf, so now he can just kind of relive all the fun moments.
"And I think that's what I saw in him that day. He soaked it up and he loved talking about golf and trying to pass along some advice to the young people at Indiana University."
Wilson acknowledged Nicklaus would be a tough act to follow. Someone suggested the defending champ of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation need only look as far as the tournament host and former president for next year's coup.
"There you go," Wilson said with a big grin.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Steve Stricker has been known as Mr. September for his prowess during the FedExCup Playoffs. So maybe it's time that we gave January honors to his fellow Wisconsin native Mark Wilson.
Wilson has three victories in the first five weeks of the last two years -- the 2011 Sony Open in Hawaii and Waste Management Phoenix Open and the 2012 Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. And as he comes to the California desert to defend his latest title, Wilson already has a tie for 11th in the 2013 season-opener at Kapalua to his credit.
Wilson, who makes his home in Chicago, known for its harsh winters, is at a loss to explain his success. He likes that the slate is clean, though, and he's well-rested, which Wilson also thinks works in his favor.
"I'm not really looking at rankings and where I stand and all that stuff," Wilson said. "I feel like I'm a little bit more relaxed with that and secondly, I've just come off usually a pretty big break. ... My mind is very clear and I'm thinking about the good things that I can do. As the season progresses, sometimes you focus on mistakes and what I can improve and therefore you're starting to think about some of the negatives in your game."
Wilson generally takes a trip before Christmas to somewhere warm where he can work on his game. He'll head to Maui early if he's one of the lucky few who make the winner's-only Hyundai Tournament of Champions. If not, Wilson stops in the desert to visit his in-laws for a few days before heading to Honolulu for the Sony Open.
"I think it's a testament to the game is really not that difficult," Wilson said. "Sometimes you make it too difficult, and I personally do. It spealks to simplicity and how simplifying is something that golf sports pesychologists talk to me all the time about. I sometimes listen, sometimes don't. ...
"(Sports psychologist) Bob Rotella has told me many times once you accept what you have and go and play golf you're going to succeed. With that being said there's still times you've got to work on your technique and I still do that. You've got to work at everything in life so I can't just let my golf swing go. But I think it speaks to simplicity."
Of course, Wilson's theory doesn't always work. He took a three-week break after last year's U.S. Open "thinking I would be rejuvenated" but returned to tie for 45th at the John Deere Classic and only posted one top-10 finish in his last nine starts
"So who knows?" Wilson said with a smile.
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: For the second straight year, Mark Wilson got off to a fast start -- winning for the fifth time and earning more than $1.7 million before the TOUR headed to Florida. If the former UNC standout can find a way to carry that momentum throughout the year, he could take the next step.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: A career-low 62 in the second round that included eight birdies and an eagle helped stake Wilson to victory at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. The win was his third in 53 weeks. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: What a nice man and what a good player Wilson has become. He almost won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, losing to Hunter Mahan on the 17th green in the semifinals. Struggled with his game during a mini slump during the summer but finished strong with a Top 10 at The McGladry Classic. Mark took his extended family to Maui for the Hyundai and helped to personally jump-start the economy. He’ll be returning to Hyundai after his win at Humana. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: King of the West Coast Swing, with three titles in the last two years as well as a solo third at the WGC-Match Play this past February. After that, however, he picked off just one top 25 in his final 19 starts, and that was a T24 at the RBC Heritage. The 38-year-old horse for certain courses would have to maintain that unlikely trend to retain his fantasy value. It's not a hopeful recipe, however. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finish||1st||Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 16
Rounds played: 78
Top-10 finishes: 3
Money List rank: 37th
Driving distance: 183rd
Driving accuracy: 12th
Greens in regulation: 122nd
Strokes gained-putting: 116th
Scoring average: 142nd
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
What is your prediction for Mark Wilson in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know
For the second straight year Phil Mickelson will open his PGA TOUR season at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the William J. Clinton Foundation.
Mickelson, who is ranked 15th in the world, is a two-time champion of the event that will be played Jan. 14-20 on PGA WEST’s Palmer and Nicklaus Private Courses and La Quinta Country Club. The World Golf Hall of Famer is the event's leading money winner with more than $2.04 million earned in eight starts.
Mickelson joins defending FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker and 2012 Humana Challenge champion Mark Wilson as early commitments. Last weekend, former President Clinton played in Mickelson's Birdies for the Brave event at TPC Sawgrass.
“Having Phil and Brandt on board already bodes well for the strength of our field again this year and provides further proof of the appeal of the event,” said Bob Marra, Humana Challenge executive director and CEO. “The legacy Phil has left on our event is undeniable, his popularity among our fans is remarkable and we could not be more pleased to have him start his season with us again. I am also proud to welcome back our defending champion, Mark Wilson, who has committed to the field.”
The Humana Challenge, which continues to honor and celebrate the legacy of Bob Hope, was named 2012 Sports Event of the Year by Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Seems inconceivable that a PGA TOUR player’s aim on the greens could be off by entire inches, but Hunter Mahan found that to be the case last week before the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Mahan had a session Monday with Ping Tour rep Matt Rollins at Dove Mountain’s putting green, and a laser device put in front of Mahan’s putterface found his alignment to be left of the hole by a couple inches.
Rollins handed Mahan the company’s new Nome putter, a mallet made with high-grade aluminum and tungsten sole plates which increase MOI. It has a black alignment bar with white sight lines, and Mahan immediately corrected his left-aiming issue.
“This one has a little less offset and it's helping me aim better, so basically I'm aiming where I think I'm supposed to be aiming. Before I was aiming a little more left than I thought, so I was kind of pushing my putts. I wasn't just getting like a true roll and a true read,” Mahan said Friday after advancing to the quarterfinals. “I have just a lot of confidence where I'm starting the ball. I think I'm starting it there and I'm hitting it right there.
“Last week (T24 at the Northern Trust Open) I had no sense of the greens and missed everything. But for some reason this week I feel confident. I feel confident whenever I get on the green I'm going to make it. It's a good feeling to have right now.”
Two days later, Mahan won the Accenture. From a couple inches left to the top of one of the season’s most prestigious events in six days.
The Ping Nome will arrive at golf shops in the first week of April.
STRONG SHOWING: Ping made out big at Accenture with three staff players among the last four players standing – Mahan, Mark Wilson and Lee Westwood. The company’s players went a collective 19-6 for the event, including 6-0 on day one (Ping players Miguel Angel Jimenez, Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson also were in the field).
SEEING YELLOW: Skip Kendall used a yellow Srixon Z-Star XV Tour to weeks ago in winning the Nationwide Tour season opener, the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship, then put it in play last week at the Mayakoba Golf Classic on the PGA TOUR. Gary Christian and Robert Gamez also used the yellow ball, while Charlie Beljan used a yellow Z-Star Tour.
SIZING UP: Sang-moon Bae made a surprising run to the quarterfinals at Accenture before losing to eventual runner-up Rory McIlroy. He used a Callaway Diablo Octane Tour 3-wood after auditioning both the Octane Tour and Razr X Black 3-woods on the range and the course before the matches. He had the 3-woods set up identically to 14.5 degrees for his test.
TIGER TALK: Tiger Woods met the media Wednesday at The Honda Classic and talked about putting, including how he has stayed loyal to Nike putters. Despite his struggles on the greens, Woods hasn’t gone back to the Titleist Scotty Cameron model he used during his decade-plus of dominance.
“I had to find a putter that comes off at the same pace as my Cameron did. We had to work on the grooves to make sure that it came off the same speed. Once we got that dialed in and the ball was coming off the same speed, then we are set,” Woods said. “And that's the mallet … or the one with the plumber neck, they are coming off the same speed as my Cameron, and that's the beauty of it, because I don't have to make any adjustments for speed.”
Woods has made one return to the old days – putting a Ping grip back in play, which he says provides more swing in his stroke.
A GOOD FIT: Callaway, the PGA TOUR and Birdies for the Brave are teaming up this season to custom-fit three veterans for new clubs at a dozen TOUR events.
The first fitting was Tuesday on the range at The Honda Classic, with Sgt. Kyle Evans (a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient who served two tours of duty in Iraq), Daniel Robinson (who served in Kuwait), and Ben Baar, a 20-year veteran of the Army who was injured in the Middle East.
The tee times for the first round of this week’s The Honda Classic have been released. CLICK HERE for the tee times. Use the space below to comment about the pairings at PGA National.
Here’s a look at some of the notable groups in the first two rounds:
Jim Furyk/Y.E. Yang/Henrik Stenson
Yang has owned PGA National in recent years, with a win and a second-place finish.
Kyle Stanley/Keegan Bradley/Rory McIlroy
Three of the best players in the world under the age of 30, and all three bomb the ball.
Mark Wilson/Rory Sabbatini/Camilo Villegas
These three players won at PGA National in 2007, 2011 and 2010, respectively. Villegas and Wilson squared off in a four-man playoff (with Boo Weekley and Jose Conceres) on a steamy Monday in 2007, which Wilson won.
Lee Westwood/Ian Poulter/Tiger Woods
No introduction needed for this trio. Tiger makes his first start at PGA National. This is the third consecutive year Westwood has teed if up here. Tied for ninth in 2010.
John Huh/Charl Schwartzel/Ernie Els
The PGA TOUR's newest winner (Huh) immediately graduates to an A-list tee time with a pair of major champions.
Anthony Kim/Mike Weir/Mark Calcavecchia
Can Kim and Weir get their games turned around at the start of the Florida Swing? And don't count out Calcavecchia, who has lived in Palm Beach for many years. He tied for fourth here in 2008.
Now, it’s your turn: Which groups are you most interested in following this week?
Well, that's one way to combat rising airfare prices.
As noted on Sunday's Notes from inside the ropes, Mark Wilson's caddie Chris Jones had his van for the entire West Coast Swing. That would be fine -- except Wilson rolled through the bracket at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. Wilson played until late Sunday, leaving Jones with a mere 72 hours to get to Palm Beach, Fla. for the first round of The Honda Classic.
The thing is, he won't make it in time for Wednesday's pro-am. Wilson will have to go to his bench for help on Wednesday.
"I've got to find somebody for Wednesday," Wilson said. "Something tells me I'm going to get some phone calls."
Wilson and Jones have one of the longer player-caddie marriages on the PGA TOUR. They've been together ever since Wilson was a struggling TOUR pro in 2006, but it was an incident at the 2007 The Honda Classic that thrust Jones into the spotlight.
A quick recap: Jones inadvertently told a fellow caddie what club Wilson had hit early in the second round at PGA National. Of course, that's a no-no, and it cost Wilson a two-shot penalty at a time when Wilson was struggling to make it on TOUR. Q-school was a yearly event for him.
Instead of hurting Wilson, the penalty seemed to fire him up. Wilson went on a birdie binge, shooting a 66 (with the penalty) on one of the toughest courses on TOUR. He stayed hot on the weekend and eventually won a four-man playoff. He hasn't been back to q-school since, and he's racked up five PGA TOUR wins, all with Jones on the bag.
"From there on, I just played some of the best golf of my life," Wilson said of the 2007 penalty. "Chris is a great caddie. He felt so bad about what he did. I'm sure he won't do it again. You know, it didn't really cost him a dime in the end."
All interviews will be streamed live on PGATOUR.COM. You can also check Twitter @PGATOUR.
Tuesday, Feb. 28
Rory Sabbatini: 8:30 a.m.
Davis Love III: 1:30 p.m.
Lee Westwood: 5:00 p.m.
Jack Nicklaus: 5:30 p.m.
Keegan Bradley: TBD
Wednesday, Feb. 29
Hank Kuehne: 9:30 a.m.
Tiger Woods: Following 6:45 a.m. Pro-Am
Mark Wilson: Following 8:35 a.m. Pro-Am
Rory McIlroy: Following 8:45 a.m. Pro-Am
MARANA, Ariz. – A few notes from Sunday’s final day at Dove Mountain …
> Hunter Mahan won the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in part because of his dominance of the par-4 seventh hole, which he won every time he played it. Mahan became the first player since 2003 to win a hole every time he played it through six matches. Special mention should go out to Paul Casey, who won the 13th hole six of the seven times he played it in 2009 (36-hole final).
> Mark Wilson and Lee Westwood entered their consolation match having never played the 18th hole. They became the sixth and seventh players to play five rounds at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and never go past the 17th hole. The last player to accomplish this feat was Luke Donald last year. Sunday’s consolation match did require 18 hole, which Wilson won 1 up.
> Mahan was the first player to win a hole in the final match at the Accenture Match Play Championship, winning the sixth hole. Since 2003, only one final has seen the first hole won happen on the 6th hole or later; in 2006 the first hole won in the match between Geoff Ogilvy and Davis Love III was at the 11th hole.
> Mahan and Wilson faced off in the semifinals at the Accenture Match Play Championship. Through seven holes Mahan won four holes and Wilson won two. The two combined to win six of the first seven holes of a match, tying the highest number of holes won through seven holes since 2003 at this event (not including first round matches).
MARANA, Ariz. – Mark Wilson won Sunday’s consolation final against Lee Westwood 1 up to claim third place at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. For Wilson, a five-time winner on the PGA TOUR, it’s his best finish in seven World Golf Championships starts.
The disappointment of not reaching the finals – he was beaten by Hunter Mahan in the semifinals – was tempered somewhat by beating Westwood, a No. 1 seed who came into this week ranked No. 3 in the world.
“Lee Westwood is obviously a great player and top-ranked player in the world,” Wilson said. “so it's pretty cool to beat him.”
Wilson never trailed in the match after winning the second hole with a birdie. After the 13th hole, he was 3 up, but Westwood won the next two holes to put pressure on him.
“I kind of had him 3-down there and I let him back in with my play on 14 and 15,” Wilson said. “But thankfully I came through with three pars at the end, and he didn't make any birdies on top of me.”
Here’s the hole-by-hole coverage of the match at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club:
CONSOLATION UPDATES (All times ET)
5:45 p.m. – Westwood can’t drain the 22-footer for birdie that would have extended the match. Wilson wins 1 up
5:32 p.m. – Both players par the par-4 17th, with Westwood extending the match by making a 5-footer to save par. Wilson is headed for the 18th hole for the first time this week. Wilson 1 up through 17
5:19 p.m. – Westwood missed a birdie attempt from inside 9 feet that would have squared the match. Wilson 1 up through 16
5:10 p.m. – Westwood won his second consecutive hole, rolling in a 7-1/2 foot birdie putt at the drivable par-4 15th while Wilson missed his birdie attempt from 4 feet. Wilson 1 up through 15
5 p.m. – Wilson found the fairway bunker with his tee shot, then the greenside bunker with his third shot at the par-4 14th. That resulted in a bogey, as Westwood wins the hole. Wilson 2 up through 14
4:44 p.m. – Both players had birdie putts inside of four feet at the par-5 13th. But only Wilson made his. Wilson 3 up through 13
4:29 p.m. – Westwood gets up-and-down from the greenside bunker to halve the par-3 12th, but Wilson’s still in command. Wilson 2 up through 12
4:19 p.m. – Wilson birdied the par-5 11th with a 7-foot putt while Westwood had to settle for par. Wilson wins the hole. Wilson 2 up through 11
4:04 p.m. – Pars for both players at the par-4 10th. Westwood missed a golden opportunity to square the match when he missed a birdie putt from 6 feet. Wilson 1 up through 10
3:51 p.m. – Both players parred the par-4 ninth. Westwood had the best look at birdie but missed a 17-footer. Wilson 1 up through 9
3:37 p.m. – Both players birdied the par-5 eighth. Westwood had a two-putt birdie; Wilson chipped to 5-1/2 feet and made the putt. Wilson 1 up through 8
3:22 p.m. – Westwood bounces back with birdie at the par-4 seventh with a spectacular putt from the fairway, 41 feet, 2 inches from the pin. That’s the sixth longest putt by any player this week and allows Westwood to win the hole. Wilson 1 up through 7
3:11 p.m. – Westwood bogeys the par-3 sixth after his tee shot found the greenside bunker. He blasted out to 29 feet but couldn’t make the long par putt, giving Wilson the hole. Wilson 2 up through 6.
3:05 p.m. -- Par-4 fifth halved with pars. Wilson 1 up through 5
2:50 p.m. – The driveable par-4 fourth was tempting for Westwood and he delivered with a 329-yard drive that found the greenside bunker. He blasted out to 3 feet for the birdie that would give him the win after Wilson missed from 26 feet. Wilson 1 up through 4.
2:38 p.m. – Westwood put his tee shot in the water at the par-3 third hole. He hit his third shot to the edge of the green and chipped to 11 feet, the conceded the hole to Wilson, who was 10 feet away for par. Wilson 2 up through 3.
2:35 p.m. – Wilson did what he had trouble doing in the semifinals – he made a birdie at the par-5 second, rolling in a 12-footer to take the early advantage. Wilson 1 up through 2.
2:20 p.m. – And they’re off. The first hole was halved with two-putts from 35 feet for Westwood and 30 feet for Wilson. All square through 1.
2:02 p.m. – Speaking of FedExCup points, Lee Westwood will earn some for the first time in his career. Only PGA TOUR members are eligible, and Westwood has joined for 2012.
1:59 p.m. – Despite his semifinal loss, Mark Wilson is assured of his second top-five finish of the season. He won the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation last month and currently ranks sixth in the FedExCup.