Wed, Feb 09, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Wilson snatches Phoenix Open win in playoff duel

AFP, PHOENIX, ARIZONA

Mark Wilson celebrates after making a birdie putt on the second playoff hole to win the Phoenix Open on Monday in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Photo: AFP

Mark Wilson birdied the second hole of a sudden-death playoff on Monday to win the weather--disrupted Phoenix Open ahead of fellow American Jason Dufner.

Wilson drained a nine-foot birdie putt on the deciding hole to claim his second victory in three starts this year.

Wilson set up the putt with a seven-iron approach from the fairway.

“That was an easy putt,” Wilson said. “Just thankfully, I started it on line and knocked it in.”

Wilson made a 4.5-foot par putt on the 18th to extend the playoff after Dufner had tapped in for par.

Wilson had held a two-stroke lead when final-round play resumed on Monday.

He completed a two-under 69 to match Dufner at 18-under. Dufner had posted a 66, with birdies at 16 and 18 to seize a share of the lead on 266.

Wilson opened the season with a victory at the Sony Open.

“I’m just enjoying the ride here and that’s just kind of the way I’m going to look at the year here, just ride this train as long as I can,” Wilson said.

In Phoenix, frost and a frozen playing surface cost several hours of playing time over the first four days, forcing the tournament finish to be pushed back to Monday.

The worst of the delays, for Wilson, was that the revamped schedule prevented him from watching most of his beloved Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.

After playing until dark on Sunday and helping out with the kids, he was able to catch just a few minutes of the game on television.

“I had to wash Lane’s face and put his jammies on, and I had to eat, too,” Wilson said. “The chaos, with two little kids running around — I like the chaos — it’s a good distraction. But at that time, I want to at least get to watch the last 15 minutes of this game. This doesn’t happen every year, the Packers in the Super Bowl. Luckily, my son, after we played Candy Land in the middle of the fourth quarter, he said, ‘OK, the last two minutes we can watch it together.’ So we watched that last stand and I was happy that they somehow pulled it off.”

Despite having one victory under his belt already this year, Wilson said he felt some jitters on Sunday when he returned to the 13th green to resume his final round.

“I was a little more nervous today [Monday] than I was expecting,” he said. “I didn’t sleep great last night. It was probably the excitement with the Super Bowl and the uncertainty of today.”

Dufner was facing a 7.5-foot par putt when Wilson ended the playoff.

“Came out and made a couple birdies to put maybe a little heat on Mark and he played great,” Dufner said. “Great two-putt on the first playoff hole from 70-plus feet and makes birdie on the next hole.”

Wilson, whose victory last month secured his berth in the Masters, jumped from 91st to 51st in the world to claim a spot in the 64-man WGC Match Play Championship field.

Scotland’s Martin Laird (65) and Fiji’s Vijay Singh (66) tied for third at 16-under 268.

Tommy Gainey, who led by one shot after 54 holes, was a stroke back with two holes remaining, but closed with a 74 to tie for eighth.

He found the water twice at the par-four 17th en route to a triple bogey.

“I guess I’ve just got to deal with it,” Gainey said. “You’ve got to win with class and you’ve got to lose with class, so I’m trying to deal with that right now.”

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