LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Mark Wilson has just eagled the 11th hole on the Palmer Course to move to 8 under for the day.
Wilson, who birdied his first three holes and turned in 31, is now 14 under and two strokes behind Ben Crane, who shot 61 in the second round. He's alone in second with a one-stroke edged on overnight co-leader David Toms.
Wilson has three par 5s, a trio of par 3s and two par 4s remaining. The course record on the Palmer Course is the 59 David Duval shot in the final round of his 1999 victory.
Wilson, who won twice last year, will defend his title at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in two weeks.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
HONOLULU -- Mark Wilson won't be around this weekend to defend his Sony Open in Hawaii championship.
"Short game kind of let me down yesterday," said Wilson, who bogeyed five of the seven greens that he missed in regulation in the first round.
Wilson made five bogeys on Thursday, the same amount he made during all 72 holes in last year's win at Waialae.
Although he played better on Friday -- he was a bogey-free 3 under in his first eight holes before losing momentum -- he felt like he didn't get enough out of his round.
"I don't know how I only shot 2 under to be honest with you," he said.
He added: "It just was one of those weeks where is it didn't seem like things were going in my favor. I felt like I hit a lot of good shots that ended up poorly and didn't make as many long putts as I normally do, and there was the difference."
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
HONOLULU – Mark Wilson enters this week’s Sony Open in Hawaii as the defending champ. Of the 26 rookies on the PGA TOUR this year, 24 are playing at Waialae, including nine who are making their TOUR debuts.
You might think one of them would want to pick the brain of, oh, a guy who’s had success here before.
“I haven’t really had any of that,” Wilson said with a smile. “These young kids coming up, they just sweat confidence. I can understand why they would not ask me, a grizzled veteran, what I think about something because they think they can do better, which is fine.”
Or perhaps they’re just reluctant to ask. Wilson acknowledged that he didn’t approach any veterans when he was a rookie pro.
“I wasn’t that comfortable with it,” he said.
Obviously, that didn’t prevent him from figuring out Waialae on his own.
Staff and wire reports
PONTE VEDRA, Fla. -- The PGA TOUR Player of the Year race may not be over yet.
The TOUR decided Monday to wait until after the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions is over to send out Player of the Year ballots since the tournament would count as an official win if a PGA TOUR member wins it. Ballots still must be returned by Dec. 9.
"It's important because it's an official win for a member, and that should hold the ballot open," said Andy Pazder, the TOUR’s COO. "When we send out the ballot, we have a brief summary of the player's year on the PGA TOUR. It would be a glaring omission if someone won the tournament and that wasn't on there."
A year ago, the HSBC Champions was played prior to the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, which concluded the 2011 Fall Series on Sunday. With his win at Disney, Luke Donald joined six other players with two victories this year -- capturing the PGA TOUR money title in the process. (Money earned at the HSBC Championship is unofficial.)
Three of the two-time winners -- PGA champ Keegan Bradley, Nick Watney and Mark Wilson -- are currently expected to play Nov. 3-6 in Shanghai along with FedExCup champion Bill Haas.
Donald has said he likely would play in Shanghai if his wife has given birth to their second child. He also plans to play in the Nedbank Challenge, Dubai World Championship and JBWere Masters in successive weeks in December.
Also playing in Shanghai is Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, who has not missed a cut this year. Schwartzel is not likely to be on the ballot now, but adding a World Golf Championships title to his major could make a difference.
The other three two-time winners -- Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson and Steve Stricker -- are not entered in the tournament at Sheshan International Golf Club at the current time.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LEMONT, Ill. -- The 77 was hard enough to swallow. At least Mark Wilson didn't have to absorb a two-stroke penalty like he feared might happen after his club grazed the sand in the greenside bunker at the 14th hole.
The situation arose after Wilson had marked his ball in the sand on the par 3 so his playing partner Justin Rose could hit his second shot. When Wilson replaced his ball he saw the indentation in the sand.
Wilson called rules official Brad Fabel over as soon as the hole was complete. Fabel told him they were actually already aware of what happened -- "That's TV for you," Wilson said with a wry smile -- and were discussing whether he should be penalized for grounding his club in a bunker.
When Wilson finished his round, Slugger White, vice president of rules and competition for the PGA TOUR, went into the scorer's trailer to talk with him. The decision? No infraction occurred.
White said he and the other rules officials deliberated for about 45 minutes. Eventually they determined that the situation fell under the exception to Rule 13.4 that says there is no interference when lifting or replacing the ball -- "provided nothing constitutes testing of the hazard and he did not do that," White said. "We were very comfortable with that."
Wilson knew immediately after he replaced the ball in the sane that he could have a problem.
"I didn't realize it until I lifted myself up and I saw a mark," Wilson said. "I'm like, oh no. that's my club that made that mark. So I asked the guys and they deliberated about it and they talked to the USGA about it and they feel good about the decision. I couldn't lobby for it at all, I just had to sit there and wait. I'm glad it went in my favor."
Rose said he would have felt "pretty guilty" if there had been a penalty assessed since he was the one who asked Wilson to mark his ball.
"When he's gone down to replace it, obviously your body is in an unusual act, you're in the bunker but you're in a hazard, but he's obviously in some sense grounded his club somewhat trying to stay balanced, I suppose," Rose said. "But I believe no penalty, and I think that was the right decision. There was certainly no way he was ever testing the surface. That would have been a harsh thing to have happened."
Wilson, who had started the third round tied for the lead with Rose, ended up making a double bogey on the next hole and a bogey at No. 16. He refused to use the uncertainty over whether he would get a penalty as an excuse.
"Nah. I'm a big boy. I'm a big boy," Wilson said. "I got fooled on the wind at 15 is really all that happened there and I pressed on 16. I just couldn't get any putts to drop. I pretty much decided I thought I had the penalty. I've got to focus that I made a 5 at 14 and it will be a bonus if I get a 3. Turns out there was an exception to the rule that worked in my favor. I'm happy that it worked out OK.
"The 77 was a lot higher than I was thinking I was going to shoot. I didn't want to sign for 79."
LEMONT. Ill. – Mark Wilson may incur a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a greenside bunker at the par-3 14th hole.
Tournament officials have informed him that the situation will be addressed in the scorer’s trailer. Without the penalty, Wilson made par on the hole.
Things haven’t gotten any better for the local favorite, either.
Wilson, who held the overnight lead, has just made double bogey the par-5 15th – chipping his fourth shot over the green and into the bunker, then blasting out and two-putting from 15 feet. He’s dropped to 6 under and is seven strokes off the lead.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
LEMONT, Ill. -- Mark Wilson doesn't mind flying under the radar. Even when he won two of his first three starts of the season, grabbed the early FedExCup points lead and started finding himself in more featured groups on the Golf Channel, his time in the spotlight was brief.
"It died down quick," he said.
But it's picking back up again. Wilson is the co-leader with Justin Rose through 36 holes of the BMW Championship. Cog Hill is one of his home courses. He has returned to the spotlight -- and it could burn even brighter if he wins this week and enters next week's TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola as one of the top five players who control their own FedExCup fate.
"I still feel like I'm a little under the radar," said Wilson after shooting a second-round 5-under 66. "I don't think I'm a player that people talk about at the beginning of the week as a favorite.
"But hopefully I can keep playing like this and I'll change that."
He may also change any perceptions of him not being a viable candidate for Player of the Year honors. He's one of six players this year with two wins; no player has more than that. But his name hardly comes up in the discussion.
Wilson, currently ranked 17th in points, figures he could change that if he wins at Cog Hill this week, then follows with a win at East Lake, which would give him the FedExCup. Should he do that, he'd have twice as many wins as the next player.
"I think I'd have a good argument," Wilson said.
"... There's a lot of great players out here, but I feel like I'm playing very close to the same form I had when I started out the year. My mind is in a better place, and I'm just kind of accepting the results. Whatever happens, happens. But year, I would definitely put myself in there."
Wilson opened his year by winning the Sony Open in Hawaii, then followed three weeks later by claiming the Waste Management Phoenix Open in a playoff. Winning so early in the season might have been a detriment to his post-season award chances.
"That's probably true," Wilson said. "... People think about what have you done for me lately on the PGA TOUR all the time.
"Those wins early obviously count just as much in the regular season as say a win at Greensboro or something like that."
Of course, if he can end his season the way he finished it, well ...
"Yeah, hoping to have bookends to the year," he said. "Two (wins to start) and two to finish."
Mark Wilson rolled in a birdie putt of 36 feet, 7 inches on his final hole -- the ninth -- on Thursday at Cog Hill.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
LEMONT, Ill. -- When Mark Wilson moved to downtown Chicago in 2004, he had an easy commute down I-55 to practice at Cog Hill. Frank Jemzek, who owns the course, let Wilson practice on the back range and "play quite a bit,” according to Wilson.
Even though Wilson has moved to the suburb of Elmhurst and plays mostly out of Butler National, he still considers Cog Hill one of his home courses.
That local knowledge paid off Thursday.
Wilson shot 6-under 65, his lowest score in his last 20 rounds on TOUR, to share second place with Webb Simpson, two shots off the lead held by Justin Rose after the first round of the BMW Championship.
Because he lives in the area, Wilson had plenty of family and friends following him Thursday. "It'll just get bigger as the week goes on, too."
But beyond the support and beyond knowing how to play the course, Wilson still had to make the shots. He did, hitting 13 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation.
It also helped that he rolled in a birdie putt just inside 37 feet on his final hole, the par-5 ninth. It was his fifth birdie -- he also had an eagle at the par-5 16th after a great second shot with a 3-wood -- against one bogey on what was a tough scoring day for most players.
"I always would definitely bet on the guy that's in good form versus course knowledge," Wilson said. "I guess I got both of them this week.
"I feel I'm in good form and I've got some extra knowledge, so that's a good combination. … I’m excited to be the hometown boy here."
Wilson won two of his first three starts of the season and was the early leader in FedExCup points. He enters this week 17th in the standings.
That puts him safe for East Lake, but he'd still like to get inside the top five in points after this week and control his own destiny in terms of winning the FedExCup.
"I feel like I'm playing well," he said. "It's just a fine line between what, say, Webb Simpson is going and what I've been doing."
If he wins this week, that line becomes a lot closer.