HAWAII'S DAY OF GOLF CHAMPIONS
Kaneohe native Dean Wilson celebrated yesterday after winning the International golf tournament.
PGA Tour win gives Wilson ticket to Maui
CASTLE ROCK, Colo. » When Dean Wilson makes his annual return home to Hawaii this winter, he will have to make a side trip to Maui.
He'll gladly do it, since it will be for the Mercedes Championships.
With his first career PGA Tour victory in a two-hole playoff over Tom Lehman at the International yesterday at Castle Pines Golf Club in Colorado, Wilson qualified for the Mercedes, one of golf's all-star events. Only winners from the previous year's PGA Tour schedule are invited to the season-opening event.
"After I won, there were a couple of fans out there from Hawaii that said, 'You're going to Kapalua.' That will be exciting, being a PGA Tour winner, being in Hawaii, from Hawaii and representing the state," Wilson said.
"It's a great feeling. I don't know about all the other perks that come with it, but I'm just satisfied, really satisfied, to have a trophy and have my name on it."
Wilson is the first player from Hawaii to win a Tour event on the mainland. Ted Makalena* (1966) and David Ishii (1990) both won the Hawaiian Open (now the Sony Open) at Waialae Country Club.
It has been a long road for Wilson, a 36-year-old graduate of Castle High School.
He attended Brigham Young-Hawaii and then BYU in Provo, where he teamed up with future Masters champion Mike Weir.
Wilson played in Canada, Asia (he won six times in Japan in three years) and the Nationwide Tour before joining the PGA Tour in 2003. His best finish in 117 previous Tour events was third, at the 2004 Valero Texas Open.
Dean Wilson watched his second shot on the 18th hole yesterday during a playoff for the 2006 International golf tournament title in Castle Rock, Colo.
Wilson won yesterday by making a 6-foot putt on the second playoff hole for birdie, edging Tom Lehman. Wilson and Lehman both hit good drives on the 458-yard No. 9 hole, Wilson's about 5 yards past Lehman's. But Wilson nailed his 160-yard 8-iron near the pin, after Lehman's second shot hit the edge of a bunker and left him with a much longer birdie try -- which he missed a few inches to the right.
Wilson earned $990,000 with the win.
He started the final round tied for seventh. He made seven birdies and two bogeys to finish tied with Lehman, the U.S. Ryder Cup team captain.
The tournament was played with a modified Stableford scoring system -- eight points for double-eagle, five for eagle, two for birdie, minus-one for bogey and minus-three for worse than bogey.
"It seems like every year, I've gotten a little better," Wilson said. "This year, I put myself into contention a few more times than the last few years, so I'm really happy with that."
Wilson has a house in Las Vegas but still considers Kaneohe and Hawaii home.
He started playing golf at Castle, eventually giving up soccer and baseball to devote more time to it.
Wilson's victory set off a big celebration in Kaneohe, where family, friends and neighbors watched the final round and then gathered again last night for a party.
"Instant potluck," said Grace Wilson, Dean's mother. "There's about 40 people running around here. I just wish I could've been there."
Wilson plays in the PGA Championship this week and at the Reno-Tahoe Open in two weeks.
Star-Bulletin reporter Dave Reardon, the Associated Press and pgatour.com contributed to this report.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
» Ted Makalena won the Hawaiian Open in 1966. A Page A1 story yesterday incorrectly said that his son, Kalua Makalena, won the event that year.