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January 15 2013

9:16 PM

Wilson scores big with Nicklaus

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.

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