Perseverance leads Wilson to Augusta
AUGUSTA, Ga. » Dean Wilson spent as much time sprinting to the ropes to welcome family and friends during yesterday's practice round at the Masters as he did swinging a club as he prepares for tomorrow's opening 18 holes in the most prestigious event in golf.
Posing for pictures with friends and signing Masters paraphernalia for any and all who asked, Wilson said he was "a good nervous" as the time winds down for tomorrow's opening round.
Wilson tees off at 2:33 a.m. Hawaii time and is paired with 1988 Masters champion Sandy Lyle of Scotland and Bradley Dredge of Wales, who qualified for his first Masters by finishing in the top 25 on the Order of Merit on the PGA European Tour in 2006.
Wilson spent yesterday playing with Mike Weir and Kauai amateur Casey Watabu and said his game is in good shape as he prepares for the biggest 18 holes of his life. So far this year, Wilson's best finish is a tie for eighth at the FBR Open. He has missed the cut in four of 10 events played.
"My game has been a little uneven this year," Wilson said. "I have some really good rounds and then some poor ones. I'm not sure this course fits my game that well, but this is a big opportunity for me.
"I've been looking forward to it all year."
His mom, Grace Wilson, walked most of the practice round yesterday, trying to contain her excitement of her son playing in his first Masters. The woman who did her best to keep Dean interested in golf as a young teen never imagined her son playing in the Masters.
"I think Dean always thought it was a possibility," Grace Wilson said yesterday. "We didn't have a lot of money for him to play junior golf. He didn't have the best equipment or coaches, but we stayed with it. He came up the hard way, which makes him appreciate it that much more."
The story of Dean Wilson having a set of clubs that didn't match or how he wasn't recruited heavily out of Castle High are well-told locally, but so appropriate as the 37-year-old prepares for Masters play. Weir, his college roommate, believes Wilson's work ethic is critical to his success.
"Dean was always working on his swing in college," Weir said. "The rest of us just went out and played golf. I've admired his perseverance. There were a lot of times he could have just gone home and forgotten his dream.
"But he didn't. And now he's in the Masters."
Wilson spent part of his day giving the same insights to Watabu during yesterday's practice round that Weir gave to Wilson during their first practice session on Monday. A big supporter of junior golf, Wilson has put his money toward the local programs to help someone like him afford to play in tournaments on the mainland.
Grace Wilson spent part of her morning being interviewed by Associated Press golf writer Doug Ferguson, who wanted to tell their story as to how he got here.
"I had to be careful what I said," Grace Wilson said, then smiled.
"Sometimes I say things that get me in trouble."
Long live the king:
will serve as the honorary starter for the Masters tomorrow, a fitting tribute to the man who made golf what it is today. Palmer won the Masters four times and played in 50 consecutive events from 1955 through 2004.
Decked out in one of his green jackets, Palmer held court at a jam-packed media room, saying he was pleased to be the man who starts the show.
"The time was right to make this decision," Palmer said. "As you know, Augusta is one of my favorite places and the Masters has meant so much to me personally throughout my career. I have always been treated so warmly there by the patrons. I hope in some way I can show my gratitude to the fans who have followed and supported me these many years."
The tradition of honorary starters began in 1963 with Jock Hutchinson (1963-73). Fred McLeod (1973-76) continued the practice until Byron Nelson took over in 1981. Others to serve as honorary starter were Gene Sarazen, Ken Venturi and Sam Snead.
"We are absolutely delighted that Arnold has accepted our invitation to become an honorary starter," said Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the tournament. "This is wonderful news for the Masters and his legions of fans."
Quigley leaves the building:
had a feeling that his pregnant wife needed him, so he turned on his cellphone during yesterday's practice round, only to discover her water had broke and he needed to go home to Florida.
The Quigleys are expecting their first child, a girl, who will likely be born today, giving Quigley plenty of time to return tomorrow for his first Masters.
"This is unbelievably good," Quigley said from the airplane. "This is my first Augusta and our first child, or should I say our first child and my first Augusta. This is a very accommodating baby. Our prayers are that everything goes well and both Amy and the baby are fine. I hope to get back to Augusta (tonight) or (tomorrow) morning, depending on my tee time."
Quigley is in the next-to-last group with Vijay Singh and Japan's Hideto Tanihara.