2011 PGA Week 5: Mark Wilson, the New Phoenix of the PGA TOUR, Wins Again

Mark Wilson Wins 2011 Waste Managment Phoenix Open. Photo Credit: Communication Links

Mark Wilson Wins 2011 Waste Managment Phoenix Open. Photo Credit: Communication Links

Mark Wilson was never dead and gone from the PGA TOUR but he did rise again in Phoenix the day after his Packers won the Super Bowl.

Even last year when the 36-year old golfer was No. 140 on the Money List going into the last event of the season he was still alive.

Having won the 2009 Mayakoba Classic he was exempt for the 2011 season and he did not have anything to prove at Disney.

Or maybe he did?

He completely missed the 2010 Playoffs for the FedEx Cup.

Even though he had won twice on the PGA TOUR he never received an invitation to the Masters.

He has never played in a British Open. In fact he has only played in three majors and has never made the cut (1 U.S. Open and 2 PGA Championships).

Maybe the Magic Kingdom is where “the little engine that thought he could,” became something bigger and better and turned into the “Wilson-matic” we now see on tour.

Like shooting stars over Cinderella’s castle, Wilson’s four rounds in the 60s earned him a 6th place finish and vaulted him inside the magical Top-125 at No. 123.

Maybe he did have something to prove?

His strong finish at Disney notched only his second Top-10 of the year.

Now he has two wins in his first three events in 2011.

What the heck happened to the guy who went to Q-School for 10 straight years prior to breaking through for his first victory at the 2007 Honda Classic?

“The sooner you decide to just trust what you’ve got, the quicker you’re going to become a better player,” was Wilson’s attitude after beginning to work with Dr. Bob Rotella.

“I skated right through Q-school and then I won three months later at the Honda, my first win in 2007.”

Fast forward four years to yesterday in Phoenix.

“The old Mark would have been pretty upset with the tee shot on 18 in regulation, maybe would have chunked that 9-iron into the front bunker and made bogey and handed the trophy to (runner-up) Jason (Dufner). But the new one was just focused on, hey, I got this 9-iron out of the bunker and almost won the tournament that way. It’s almost a two-shot swing a lot of times.”

“For some reason at the end of last year, which was one of my worst years in recent history, it (Dr. Rotella’s advice) just popped back into my head, hey, I’ve got to just trust what I’m doing and just play my own game.”

Wilson has focused on two improvements to his short game to go along with that trusting attitude.

“I’ve got a new green-reading technique,” Wilson explained. “Dr. (Greg) Rose (of the Titleist Performance Institute) helped me split the putts into two parts always, and that really has helped me see the line better.”

“(In practice rounds) I try to throw a ball down inside 100 yards on almost every hole as an additional shot on the green trying to get that up-and-down.”

“Those two things have just really calmed me down, going, hey, no matter where I hit the ball I can get it up-and-down from inside 100 yards and therefore it’s going to be hard for me to make bogeys. This week and Sony I eliminated the bogeys a lot, and that has been a key.”

Everything seems to be clicking with victories coming easily and often for Wilson at a time when others, including Tiger Woods, find it difficult to win on the PGA TOUR.

Wilson is a cumulative 47-under par in his three starts this season.

Moving up to No. 51 in the World Rankings, he is at his highest level ever.

With that ranking comes more playing opportunities in World Golf Championship events like the upcoming Accenture Match Play and the Cadilac at the TPC Blue Monster at Doral.

“I see the snowstorm up in Chicago, and it’s like, why do I need to go back there? There’s no reason. Let’s just keep playing. So I plan to play — right now the plan is to play through Bay Hill.”

“I’m just enjoying the ride here and that’s just kind of the way I’m going to look at the year here, just ride this train as long as I can.”

Phoenix was good but it is over and the opportunity is today, tomorrow and the future.

We can all benefit from that attitude!

We like the “new” Mark from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

Congratulations Wilson, Congratulations Packers!


Andy Reistetter is a freelance golf writer covering all four major American golf tours- the PGA TOUR, Champions, Nationwide and LPGA Tours.

Reistetter resides in Pont Vedra Beach, Florida near the PGA TOUR headquarters and home of The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

A lifetime golfer, Andy enjoys volunteering at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida and pursuing his passion for the game of golf and everything associated with it.

 Please comment directly on this article or email him at AndyReistetter@gmail.com