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Mark Wilson is now 2-for-3 on his young season.
With apologies to John Wayne, if they were to make a movie about Mark Wilson’s golf career, they’d call it “The Searcher.” Wilson has spent much of his journeyman career on a quest for a viable golf swing, tinkering here and adjusting there in an endless pursuit of a workable combination.
For now, the quest is over; Wilson has found his Holy Grail. It may come crashing down tomorrow, but for now, he’s the hottest golfer on the planet, having won two of his three PGA Tour starts this season and surging to No. 1 in FedExCup points and No. 51 in the World Golf Ranking.
Wilson’s latest triumph came in the weather-delayed Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he held off Jason Dufner in a playoff for his fourth career win and second in less than a month.
Wilson saved a shout-out for renowned mental game mentor Bob Rotella for helping him find what he’s been looking for. Rotella had given Wilson a revised philosophical outlook some years back, and it had always stuck with Wilson. Now, it’s paying off in spades.
“Obviously I’ve always been a searcher in terms of my technique and my golf swing, try something new here or there, it might work for a little bit, and even switching during the rounds,” he said. “When I saw Dr. Rotella, I said, okay, do I spend a few months and just try to engrain a new habit in the swing, trying to get my club a little more on plane, certain little things I’d like to change, or do I just go with it and trust it and try to just do the same thing every day? And he says, the sooner you decide to just trust what you’ve got, the quicker you're going to become a better player. And I skated right through Q-school and then I won three months later at the Honda, my first win in 2007.
“And that was the mentality that I’ve taken ever since. I stray from that every once in a while, but for some reason at the end of last year, which was one of my worst years in recent history, it just popped back into my head, hey, I’ve got to just trust what I’m doing and just play my own game — not put my swing on camera every afternoon after the rounds and try to make it perfect, because I looked around and I see everyone has got a different swing. And even some of the best swings on Tour, if they can’t dial in the yardage, it’s not going to help them. So just focus more on myself, and that's what Bob really helped me with.”
A self-described Cheesehead, Wilson could hardly celebrate the Packers’ win as he tried to sleep on a tenuous two-stroke lead with six holes to play. “I was a little more nervous today than I was expecting,” Wilson said. “I didn’t sleep great last night. It was probably the excitement with the Super Bowl and the uncertainty of today.”
Two Gloves, One Tough Loss
Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey probably won’t sleep well for a while. After losing the third-round lead, the Nationwide Tour grad and budding folk hero saw his hopes drown at 17, a drivable par 4 where he found the water twice. “I guess I’ve just got to deal with it,” Gainey said. “You’ve got to win with class and you’ve got to lose with class, so I'm trying to deal with that right now.”
Gainey, whose distinctive persona includes two dark gloves and one funky, jerky swing, still posted his best finish since the 2008 Children’s Miracle Network Classic, where he finished second.
Another Missed Opportunity
Phil Mickelson spent much of 2010 missing out on chances to supplant Tiger Woods as the World’s No. 1 golfer. With the No. 1 window closed for now, Lefty still missed out on a chance to pass Woods in the rankings. A solo third or better would have nudged Mickelson into the No. 3 spot in the World Rankings ahead of Woods, but Lefty could only manage a T29 after opening 67-65.