JOHN DEERE CLASSIC
With $775,834 in winnings this year, Kaneohe's Dean Wilson is just about assured a spot on the PGA Tour next season.
Wilson wants win
The Castle High graduate has locked up his spot on the PGA Tour, but he wants to get his first win out of the way as well
SILVIS, ILL. » Dean Wilson believes you don't have to hit every drive 300 yards or farther to win on the PGA Tour.
The Castle High graduate hopes to add himself to the list of players who have proven it, preferably this week at the John Deere Classic.
Wilson was scheduled to tee off in today's first round at 8:16 a.m. Hawaii time, 4 1/2 hours after Michelle Wie.
"Definitely," Wilson said, when asked if there's still room atop the leaderboard for short hitters. "Jim Furyk and Fred Funk have proved that. Jim's shorter than I am, and he's third on the money list. Power has its advantages, but it's not everything."
Another finesse player is Wilson's BYU teammate, Mike Weir. All he did was win the 2003 Masters.
"He's had great success out here and he's obviously not a powerful hitter. If you're accurate and smart with your game you can do well," Wilson said.
Wilson was out-driven by his playing partners at yesterday's pro-am (it helped them that their tees were 20 to 40 yards closer to the greens, of course), and Wilson didn't make every green. But he still managed to finish the round at 4-under-par 67 with some fine putting and chipping.
He's a stellar 22nd on tour with 28.64 putts per round and 21st in scrambling for par from within 30 yards.
Wilson finished tied for 70th here last year, faltering on the weekend after starting out 67-69. He was looking forward to today's first round at the 7,193-yard TPC layout that rewards accuracy more than length.
"It's a good course for me. It fits my eye well and it's not overly long, which is good for me because I'm not one of the longer hitters out here," said Wilson, whose average drive this year is 282.8 yards, 146th of 193 ranked PGA Tour players.
Wilson is much higher in the second-most-important tour stat, the money list. He's ranked 62nd with $775,834 in earnings.
Since he's virtually guaranteed to finish
the year in the top 125, Wilson has attained that rare commodity for professional touring golfers: job security for next year.
"I think I'm a lock. Last year it was 620 (thousand dollars), I'm at 775. I'm pretty sure even if I don't make a dollar from here I'll be OK," Wilson said. "It's good to get it done early, I've never done it before in my earlier years here. So that's a relief."
And it means he can take full aim at the only thing more important than the money ... the wins.
Wilson's still looking for his first tour victory, but he feels it could be coming soon. He's already tied his season record for top 10 finishes this year, with three.
His best 2006 finish is a tie for seventh at the Nissan Open.
"It's getting closer. If I can get my head on straight and put together four good rounds ... it seems I go two or three good rounds," he said. "I'm getting closer than I was the last few years, so that's really nice."
At 36 and injury-free, he has time.
"I'm getting a little better every year, still healthy. The best years are still ahead," said Wilson, who won six tournaments on the Japan tour before qualifying for the PGA Tour in 2002.
He's made $2.9 million on the tour, and he's ready for the next step.
"That's my top priority," Wilson said. "Winning."