Insider: Williams finds his groove south of the borderLee Williams is coming off his first career Nationwide Tour victory at the Mexico Open presented by Banamex.June 20, 2012
John Dell, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
Lee Williams isn't surprised there have been so many different winners this year on the Nationwide Tour.
In fact, Williams became the 11th different winner when he took home the victory at the Mexico Open presented by Banamex earlier this month. In just his third season on the Nationwide Tour -- where he's made 35 starts in his career -- the 30-year-old finally found the right touch.
"No, I'm not surprised it's been that way," Williams said about the different winners. "There are so many good players out there and so many good players on the mini-tours and it wouldn't surprise me if somebody Monday-qualified into a tournament and won. That's how good everybody is out there."
Williams proved he's also very good by firing rounds of 69-67-68-70 to win at 14 under.
Now that he has a victory that moved him up from 39th to fifth on the money list, Williams isn't about to change. Even though he had his best payday of his career since turning pro in 2005 after a good amateur -- he made the Walker Cup team twice -- the even-keeled Williams will press on.
"No, nothing has changed," Williams said about picking up a victory. "I'm still the same and I guess it just made me realize how many good friends and supporters I have."
If there was anything that surprised Williams it was the amount of support he received after the victory. He lost count of the number of voicemails he received and he also had around 85 text messages.
It took awhile for Williams to find solid footing in his career, but he says the process is all about staying patient. He never had to worry about finding other work during his early struggles on the mini-tours and that's something a lot of other players can't say.
"I've been real fortunate to where I did well enough on the mini-tours to where I could keep playing the next year and the support of my sponsors has been great," Williams said. "I've got a great group of sponsors who have been with me a long time and they've been good to me."
He also acknowledged that working with his swing coaches, Scott Hamilton and Layne Savoie, has been a big part of his success.
"They have really been a big help to me," said Williams, who last season played on the NGA Tour where he finished fourth on the money list.
One of the differences Williams has in his game is his iron play. It's something he's worked very hard at and it allowed him to swing freely. The tournament before the Mexico Open, Williams was feeling good and wound up tying for 10th at The Rex Hospital Open.
Then at the Mexico Open, his putting was solid and his iron play was as good as ever.
"I hit my irons really well all week and I had a good plan for the golf course," Williams said. "I putted pretty solid but the biggest thing was my iron play."
While Williams hasn't had a lot of experience on the Nationwide Tour, he said making the most of the birdie opportunities is important.
Inside THE 25 Player Money Wins 1. Paul Haley II $229,834 1 2. Luke List $223,848 1 3. Andres Gonzales $197,845 1 4. Andrew Svoboda $173,242 0 5. Lee Williams $158,395 1 25. Alistair Presnell $76,229 0
"Typically you have to be in the mid-teens (under par) to win," Williams said about what it takes over 72 holes. "You can't have too many even par rounds out here. I think the biggest thing in that tournament was getting off to a good start because I always seem to be playing from behind but I didn't have to do that."
During his two tournament stretch in Raleigh and Mexico he went a combined 23 under par.
"It's nice to have a couple of weeks in a row where everything was clicking," Williams said.
Williams says that another reason for his success is that he's doing a better job of not dwelling on things when they go bad.
His favorite motto is: "It doesn't matter where you've been but where you're going."
For Williams he's constantly looking ahead to what is next.
"In golf it's hard to keep that mentality because human nature is to look at what happened and dwell on it but you can't do that in golf," Williams said. "So I'm constantly reminding myself about that."
Williams has set himself up to have a really good season on the Nationwide Tour. He'll stick to his same practice routine and while it's nice to receive all the congratulations for winning he knows it's a long season.
"I haven't thought the clock was ticking," Williams said about his pro career which is now 7 years old. "I guess maybe in the back of my mind I said I'm 30 years old so I need to get going. But you see a lot of people playing well in their 30s and 40s so I was just hoping this would be a good year for me."
It's been better than a good year.
"I just want to keep going and keep practicing the way I've been practicing," Williams said. "I don't want to change anything and I have the rest of the year in front of me and I just want to keep doing what I'm doing."
John Dell has covered golf for the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina for the last 18 years. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.