Wilson hangs on for Humana Challenge title
Monday, January 23, 2012
LA QUINTA, Calif. - Five things you need to know from the Humana Challenge:
Schedule altering: Mark Wilson won twice before the PGA Tour moved to Florida last year, but his game never made the trip to the Sunshine State or the rest of the schedule.
After victories in the Sony Open and the Waste Management Phoenix Open in the first three weeks last year, Wilson had only three top 10s in the next 22 events. He missed the cut in the Masters, the Players and U.S. Open.
The Wisconsin native also finished 22nd in the FedEx Cup standings after being in the top 5 in the rankings through early July. Something had to change.
“I tend to remember the good things I did the season before, and when I come out the last two years, I really just had a clear mind and really focusing on what I’m doing, not worrying about my standing in the world rankings or my standing in the money list or FedEx Cup or how I’m doing against the players that week,” Wilson said. That's why he will try to simulate his annual break in November and December by taking three weeks off in the middle of the year. “I feel like I’m more in my zone.”
Wilson is skipping next week in San Diego and will defend his title in Phoenix in the following week.
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Red-hot Wagner With top-10 finishes in his first three starts this season, Johnson Wagner is the hottest golfer on the PGA Tour.
Wagner will not play next week at Torrey Pines, so his streak will be intact until his return in two weeks in Phoenix.
“I was real loose all day,” Wagner said of his bogey-free 65. “I had a couple opportunities on the back nine that didn’t drop, but I’m really happy. Would have been happier if I would have gotten that eagle putt to the hole on the last.”
It turns out that if the eagle putt would have dropped, Wagner still would have come up short to eventual winner Mark Wilson.
For Wagner, the positives keep coming. Before these first three weeks in 2012, the Virginia Tech product never had three top 10s in a season.
His 12 consecutive rounds under par is a first, as well, as is the run of 10 consecutive rounds in the 60s.
With all that positive mojo, Wagner goes home for a well-deserved rest.
“Looking forward to going home to see my family all week,” Wagner said. “I’ve been planning that all year. Been planning to take Pebble off, but I’m in a little different position now with that top 64 (ranking), so there may be something there that I need to add in. But I’m really happy going home and taking some time off. I never really played well there, so it would probably hurt me more than help. “
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Consecutive holes-in-one: Rookie Danny Lee made a hole-in-one at the 141-yard, 17th hole on Sunday at the PGA West Palmer course with a pitching wedge. It was the fourth hole-in-one in this year’s tournament. John Rollins had an ace Thursday, Miguel Angel Carballo had one Friday and Sam Saunders made one Saturday.
It’s the first time since the 2009 RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey that an ace was made on all four days of the tournament.
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Career best: John Mallinger’s runner-up finish matched his career best. He was second at the 2009 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. The Long Beach State product played near-flawless golf over his final 58 holes, making just one bogey, at No. 18 in his second round.
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Great comebacks: Runner-up Robert Garrigus may have had the best comeback in this year’s tournament. He was 6 over after his first eight holes Thursday, but from that point on, he played his final 55 holes in 28 under, including a third-round, 11-under 61. He made 27 birdies over those final 55 holes.
“My caddie told me in the 18th fairway when I was 6 over, he says, ‘Well, we’re probably not going to win the tournament, but let’s do something,’ ” Garrigus said, recalling the Thursday afternoon discussion. “And I looked at him and I’m like, ‘You know how many birdies and eagles I could make from here on out?’ And he’s like, ‘30?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I think that’s a good number.’ ”
If Garrigus had gotten to 30 under instead of 28 under, he would have been in a Monday playoff with Wilson.