Dean Wilson, of Kaneohe, is coming off his first PGA Tour victory after outlasting Tom Lehman in a playoff at The International on Sunday.
'Congratulations and back to business' for Wilson
Kaneohe's Dean Wilson can't spend much time celebrating his first PGA Tour win with a major on tap this week
The PGATour.com Web site has a nice little feature that allows fans to send congratulatory e-mails to tournament winners, and some are posted on the site. It's especially cool for first-time champions, like Dean Wilson of Kaneohe.
Well, if Wilson hasn't acknowledged your message yet, don't be offended.
"My computer went down last week," said Wilson, in a phone interview from Medinah, Ill., yesterday, two days after winning The International. "I haven't seen anything yet (about the tournament)."
It might be a while before he can get it fixed. There's not much time to celebrate a win on the PGA Tour, and Wilson is on to preparing for the next tournament, and it's a big one: the PGA Championship, which begins tomorrow. He's grouped with Bo Van Pelt and Mark Brown (Hawaii tee times are 3 a.m. tomorrow and 8:05 a.m. Friday).
Wilson said he also didn't know how high he'd climbed on some significant lists, including the money list.
With $1,900,601 in earnings this year, Wilson is No. 21.
That gives him a very good chance of making the top 40 for this year. If he does so, Wilson automatically qualifies for next year's Masters. It would be his first Augusta entry.
If he remains in the top 30, Wilson also qualifies for The Tour Championship, Oct. 30-Nov. 5.
Wilson is too far down in the Ryder Cup standings to make an impact, but he jumped to 13th in the Presidents Cup standings, which is played opposite years of the Ryder Cup. The top 10 at the end of next year, plus two captain's picks, represent the U.S. against the world (minus Europe) at the Royal Montreal Golf Club, Sept. 27-30, 2007.
Maybe it's a good thing Wilson's computer is down. Without any of that information yesterday, he enjoyed a relatively leisurely practice round in a foursome that included a college buddy who remains one of his best friends.
Dean Wilson acknowledged the applause of the gallery at the 14th tee during his practice round at Medinah yesterday.
He played with Craig Barlow, Dudley Hart and his BYU teammate, Mike Weir.
There was no lighthearted challenge from Weir (the 2003 Masters champion) for Wilson to join him as a major winner this week.
"Nah, it was congratulations and back to business," Wilson said. "Today was a lot of fun. I wasn't grinding that hard. We play a lot of practice rounds together.
"It's business as usual. We just figure the best strategy to play the course. It's move on to the next tournament. It's a new week and everyone's even."
Wilson, 36, isn't taking winning for granted, far from it. It took him 118 tournaments to do so, and he knows it isn't easy. He played in Australia, Asia, Canada and on the Nationwide Tour before finally securing a spot on the PGA Tour in 2003. There were times, he said, when he barely scraped by, taking jobs in pro shops.
"It's great satisfaction to get a win. But I feel the same. I'm still out there battling the same things, still trying to conquer some things. I'm the same golfer, with the same problems, I was one or two months ago," said Wilson.
Maybe he's a little too hard on himself. But Wilson said he's still working on improving his consistency with his driver -- something he hasn't been happy with most of the year.
No matter what Wilson does the rest of his career, a lofty spot in Hawaii sports history is his. On Sunday, the Castle High School graduate became the first golfer from the islands to win at a mainland tour event. Ted Makalena (1966) and David Ishii (1990) both won at the Hawaiian Open.
Wilson said he was thrilled to hear that Kimberly Kim, a 14-year-old from Pahoa, won the U.S. Women's Amateur match-play on the same day he beat Tom Lehman in a two-hole playoff for his win.
"It's been a great summer for Hawaii golf," Wilson said. "Don't forget Casey Watabu."
Watabu, of Kapaa, won the U.S. Amateur Public Links championship, earning himself a berth in the Masters as well.
Although Wilson said he's the same golfer as he was before last Sunday, he acknowledged that his career is forever different now that he's traded the label of journeyman pro for that of tour winner.
"Now there's a whole different set of goals and levels to try for. That's how golf is. It's an endless battle where you're always trying for another level," he said.
Obviously, one of those goals is to win this week. Will he be happy with anything short of that?
"I haven't really thought about that," Wilson said. "Making the cut and getting in position to win would be a good start."
Wilson still connected with Sorenstam
MEDINAH, Ill. » Dean Wilson figured he would forever be linked with Annika Sorenstam until he won a PGA Tour event. Three years after he played with her at the Colonial, Wilson won the International.
He and Sorenstam have remained close friends and stay in touch.
Sorenstam and Tiger Woods often text message each other after winning majors as they keep score of who has the most. Woods now has 11 majors to Sorenstam's 10.
Wilson thought that was a good idea.
"I guess I should put 68-1," he said, noting that Sorenstam has won 68 times on the LPGA Tour.
Then he came up with a better idea, realizing that the Swedish star has only played one time on the PGA Tour, missing the cut.
"Maybe I'll make it 1-0," Wilson said with a laugh."