Wilson avoids wreck

SILVIS, Ill. » Dean "The Machine" Wilson, called such for his smooth swing, was humming along nicely yesterday at the first round of the John Deere Classic.

The Castle graduate made the turn at 5 under and was on the prowl for more birdies and a truly monster round.

"He destroyed (the first nine)," said Josh Koch, a friend of Wilson from Cleveland, Ohio. "I thought he was going to shoot 60. But the back side was definitely tougher."

It was indeed, and Wilson, who started in the afternoon and played holes 10-18 first, snagged just one more birdie and bogeyed twice on Nos. 1-9.

Wilson finished the day at 67. He was 4 under and in a 19th-place tie, four strokes off the pace of first-round leader Hunter Mahan.

"I was leaking a little oil and didn't hit some good shots on the last few holes," said Wilson, who missed a 2-footer for par on No. 17. "I'm heading over to the range to work on a couple of things that got away from me late in the round."

On his first nine, Wilson hit every green in regulation, and needed only 13 swings of the flat stick. A 22-foot putt for birdie on No. 13 highlighted his work on the greens.

At various times on his last nine, Wilson appeared to be on the verge of another birdie run or a meltdown that might cost him everything he had gained before the turn.

"I was making pars, I'm happy with that. But I put myself in some bad positions with some bad shots," he said.

Those included two that put him in bunkers on Nos. 8 and 9. It seemed he would save par on 8 with a brilliant 48-foot chip from the rough, but he missed the gimme and ended up with bogey anyway.

Wilson did scramble successfully on the last hole. He hit into a trap to the left of the green after his fourth fairway miss in his last six chances. Wilson blasted out of the sand and left himself a 13-foot putt, which he made.

"I can leave with a good taste in my mouth now," Wilson said.

He said the disparity between the nines doesn't mean he can't score on Nos. 1 through 9 like he did on the other side, and he was looking forward to his entire round today, which began at 3 a.m. Hawaii Time with playing partners Willie Wood and Patrick Sheehan.

"There are a lot of good holes throughout the course," he said. "This course makes you shape shots. Sometimes you have to choose your spots with your driver. I like that kind of golf. It's better than just going up and hitting it."

Wilson, who finished sixth at the Barclays Classic two weeks ago, said he's confident he won't suffer a second-round meltdown as he did at the Cialis Western Open last week. He opened with a 70 but didn't make a cut when he carded 76 on Friday.

"I have a game plan and will stick to it, unless some changes are needed if the wind changes, or something," Wilson added. "Conditions today were pretty good, perfect weather. The course is in very good shape. As you can see, people are taking advantage of that with their scoring."

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