January 17, 2011 in Sports

Wilson plays 36 holes without bogey; Masters bound

Doug Ferguson Associated Press
 
Local watch

Alex Prugh (Ferris, UW) shot rounds of 66 and 69 Sunday to finish at 8-under 272. He tied for 20th place.

HONOLULU – Mark Wilson made it through a 36-hole marathon Sunday without a bogey and held on for a two-shot victory in the Sony Open that will take him to the Masters for the first time.

Wilson shot a 5-under 65 in the morning to take a one-shot lead into the afternoon round. He stretched his lead to four shots at the turn, then had to hang on when Tim Clark and Steve Marino made late runs on different sides of Waialae.

Clark, who started the final round five shots behind, birdied three of his last four holes. He narrowly missed an eagle putt on the ninth hole and settled for a 64. Then came Marino with two late birdies and one incredible shot that at least gave him hope.

Two shots behind on the par-5 18th, with his feet in the bunker and his ball about chest-high on the side of a hill, Marino blasted a fairway metal from 234 yards away that landed on the front of the green and rolled 40 feet away. His eagle putt narrowly missed, giving him a 68.

Wilson made one last birdie he didn’t need, giving him a 67 for his third career victory.

“It was nice to go right to the tee and not have to think about it,” Wilson said of having only a few minutes before the third and fourth rounds. “I’m thankful it’s over now.”

Wilson, who finished at 16-under 264, played his final 40 holes without a bogey. That proved significant at a couple of points in the final round. He got into trouble on the eighth hole and was 150 yards out in the fairway playing his third shot, sure to lose some of his two-shot lead. But he stuffed it to 7 feet for par, then birdied the ninth to expand his lead to four.

Even bigger was his par on the 17th, even though Wilson didn’t realize it.

Clark had already finished at 14-under 266. Marino was starting to charge with back-to-back birdies to get to 14 under, while playing in the same group with Wilson.

Wilson hit into a bunker and blasted out some 12 feet past the hole. But his par putt caught enough of the lip to fall, and he clutched his fist. Only later did Wilson reveal that he didn’t look at a leaderboard, not wanting to think about anything but making birdies.

He asked his caddie as they walked toward the 18th green where they stood, and the caddied told him, “Just get it up-and-down.” Wilson obeyed, pitching to 4 feet. The putt became easier when Marino missed his eagle.

The victory was worth $990,000 to Wilson.

Jimmy Walker closed with a 68 to finish alone in fourth, while Matt Kuchar and Matt Bettencourt were another shot back.

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