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February 25, 2012

Mark Wilson


MARK STEVENS:  Mark, thanks for joining us.  Another decisive victory here, 4 and 3 today over Peter Hanson.  Talk a little bit about the match today and maybe look ahead a little bit to tomorrow, semifinal with Hunter.
MARK WILSON:  Yeah, I knew Peter was going to be tough.  He hits it far and usually drives it really straight and holes a lot of putts.  That was the front nine.
I think we were all square after he birdied No. 9.¬† You don't expect to lose No. 9 with par.¬† He gave me a couple of holes there on 10 and 11.¬† I took advantage of that and birdied 13.¬† He gave me another one at 14.¬† It was nice to hole about a 10‑footer to win the match on 15 after he was in with birdie.
Hunter tomorrow.  A couple of Ping guys going at it.  I have a lot of respect for what he's done.  I'm looking forward to it.

Q.  What about your game is most conducive to match play?  You've been doing this since 1992?
MARK WILSON:  Yeah, right.  I haven't had a lot of experience, really, since 1996, '97, really, U.S. Amateur.  I guess it's just that I hit it, you know, keep it in play, don't really give a whole lot of holes away, haven't done it this week.  Maybe gets frustrating to other guys.  I've seen the other side of it where guys give me a couple of holes.  It really makes it easier to kind of move forward.

Q.  Could you talk about the course setup today and how you managed to make birdies and what kind of adjustments you had to make?
MARK WILSON:  Yeah, just getting firmer and the greens are getting faster.  The first hole is a good example.  I hit it almost too far; I was in the first cut of rough.  And I'm expecting that 60 to release 15 yards uphill.  That's how firm they are.  You've got to kind of play the slopes.  You've got to really be strategic about that and know where to miss it, and just try to hit quality shots.  But know that sometimes you're going to end up with a crazy putt or weird chip.
Today I didn't really put myself in bad spots.  13, I hit it in a good spot to get up and down.  And 15, I was in a nice spot.  I enjoyed the course, certainly you have to think your way around it and think about where you want your ball to end up.  There's certainly a lot of roll involved.

Q.¬† So the Mark Wilson juggernaut continues.¬† Hanson talked after the roundabout how he was trying to work on the same swing play he had the day before, and it didn't work, because he was stuck on his right side.¬† That probably contributed to the holes where he went bad.¬† When you see something like that, do you‑‑ how does that factor into your game?¬† You can see when a guy is struggling.¬† Does that affect how you play the game?¬† Do you relax a little bit?
MARK WILSON:  I try to.  That's a good example.  10 is a good example.  I saw him walking over toward the desert.  I was in the fairway.  It can turn quickly if you, okay, he's over in the desert, he's going to make a bogey.  If I hit a loose iron shot, hit it over the green in a bad spot, you could look foolish there and lose the hole.
I still tried to‑‑ like I said, every hole I'm out there trying to make as low a score as possible, without taking on much risk.¬† That's what I continue to do.¬† I am definitely trying to just dive the ball over the front lip of the hole.¬† I'm really not trying to make it.¬† If it goes in, great, but I'm going to take my chances on 2‑putting that and him not holing his pitch shot.

Q.  When you talk about not taking much risks, is that because you haven't had to this week?
MARK WILSON:¬† That's how I play golf in general.¬† I look at any hole we play and sometimes that might come down to like 18 at THE PLAYERS Championship.¬† I can live with being just in the right rough and dealing with it versus having to re‑tee every hole I play, really.
This course, I guess there's not too many‑‑ I guess the way I put that, this course there's not too many places where you have to take a certain line to maybe gain an advantage.¬† It's a station to station kind of golf course.
But there's certain times you play away from the pin and use the slope.  It has a little bit of feel like Augusta where you can use the slopes to your advantage.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
MARK WILSON:¬† I haven't played those holes since Monday, and so 17 and 18‑‑ and so I thought what if it comes down to tomorrow and I'm kind of unfamiliar with where I'm supposed to hit a tee shot.¬† And I didn't want to hit any shots because my body didn't care where the ball went.¬† I didn't want to go through the motions and hit a bad shot and that be the memory.¬† I stood on the tee, looked at the yardage book, and tried to keep loose, just to get a feel for‑‑ just to keep that going.

Q.  Kind of walked it?
MARK WILSON:  Me and my caddie just walked it.

Q.  Did you feel like an underdog coming into this or if you did, do you like that role?
MARK WILSON:¬† I don't think too many people picked me to win.¬† I turned on the coverage yesterday and I saw‑‑ I heard Nick Faldo say it was an interesting matchup‑‑ that was two days ago, Dustin Johnson and Mark Wilson, I have to give Dustin the edge on that one (laughter).¬† I guess I would, too.¬† But I shrug my shoulders and laugh.¬† I used to get intimidated by the more named players, but I feel more comfortable in my own shoes now.

Q.  That being said, do you think there is anything that you characterize as an upset in this thing?
MARK WILSON:¬† Not really.¬† I mean, you're surprised when Luke Donald lost the first day after the year he had last year.¬† But it's just 18 holes.¬† And the difference of that, if you be given a 72‑hole tournament, usually the cream rises to the top.¬† But in 18 holes in a stroke play event, you've got time to recover, make the cut, and move up on the weekend.¬† Whereas here you don't have any time to recover.

Q.¬† You said you were listening to the coverage and you're not put off by that stuff anymore because you're comfortable who you are and where you are, so when did that happen for you?¬† Can you look back at the point in time where you realized that you'd arrived and you are Mark Wilson‑‑
MARK WILSON:  Yeah, it's still a journey, I know, and I might go through some low points.  But I think back to probably '07, I started getting the feel for that.  When I first started the year out, I felt a little bit more comfortable playing with the names, when I won the Honda and then I got paired with some guys.  And then each time you get a chance to do that, each opportunity you get, you learn from that and realize it's just a game and life goes on.  And I guess the success has helped, too, because you hoist a trophy up and it's all well and good, but the next week everyone is even par again, it's starting over.  You know it's not the last chance you've got.  TV announcers, some family tend to make it more dramatic than it really is.  It's not life and death for me.  This is a game that I'm playing, and I'm blessed to be able to play it for a living.
So I've got a better perspective than I did back maybe in the beginning of my professional career.  I think maybe I'm a little more comfortable because actually I am financially a little more comfortable than I was back when I was just starting out, and you really just are playing for rent money and all that kind of stuff.  Now it's more I can focus more on victories and making Ryder Cup teams and stuff like that, not worrying about paying the rent.

Q.  And that goes back five years for you?
MARK WILSON:¬† Yeah, I think when I started working with Bob Rotella, which was in 2006.¬† At the very end of 2006 is really when some of the stuff that he told me about to be‑‑ the main thing he told me is once you decide that your game is good enough then you'll succeed.¬† I came to him and said‑‑ there's some things in my swing I don't like.¬† Do I need to just step away from the game and focus hard on those and get those in place?¬† And he looked at me like, no, when you decide that what you have now is good enough, that's when you'll succeed.¬† And all of a sudden, I started practicing less and lo and behold I played better.

Q.  There's a rumor going around that you never played Medinah?
MARK WILSON:¬† That's true.¬† I'm going to change that, I think, when the snow thaws.¬† We did have some snow yesterday.¬† I definitely plan to get out there.¬† I've walked around it a few times on the U.S. Opens and stuff like that when I was a kid.¬† I don't play much golf when I'm home.¬† I play Butler National or Cog Hill, if you see me playing more than one round of golf a week when I'm home it's a mistake.¬† It's easier to go over to Butler versus make a phone call and figure something out.¬† I just like to‑‑ I like to be simple.¬† I'm trying to make life simple.

Q.  Is it okay if I write that they just won't let you on (laughter)?
MARK WILSON:¬† Don't say that.¬† I'm sure they'd let me on if I called.¬† I don't know if they've heard of me, though, either.¬† No one's heard of me.¬† So I definitely have to‑‑ when I call up I can't just say my name like I'm sure Phil and Tiger can, I add on I'm Mark Wilson, a PGA player.¬† Maybe they'll be looking up on the computer when I'm on the phone to see if it's legit.

Q.  Do you take anymore importance this year, the Ryder Cup?
MARK WILSON:  Definitely it did.  2006 the PGA Championship was at Medinah, and I was sad I didn't play in that tournament.  When I saw the 2012 Ryder Cup was going to be there, that's something that peaked my interest.

Q.  Given what you were able to do so far early in the season, how much confidence did you have coming into this week?
MARK WILSON:  I think my caddie said it best when he texted me after we missed the cut at Riviera, I know the last time you missed the cut we won.  I missed the cut at Sony and we won at Humana.  And that put me in good spirits.

Q.  You kind of flippantly alluded to playing for rent money.  I know you did some time on the Mini Tour before you sort of worked your way up the food chain.  Was it ever quite that bad?
MARK WILSON:  No, I had sponsors and I was single, so it was a little easier to get by.  But I wasn't exactly a great catch, I was living with my parents and out of my Volkswagen.  That's life on the Mini Tour.  I was chasing my dream.  I wouldn't change my story at all.  Those three or four years on the Mini Tour makes me appreciate more what we have out here.  I remember the days of the loneliness out there and trying to find your game.  Basically Hooters Tour, basically all around the country, and chasing Nationwide qualifiers, and PGA Tour qualifiers and fitting it all in.  Just enjoying the journey.  That's what I tell kids now, it's not the destination, it's the journey, and you've got to enjoy the journey.

Q.  What kind of Volkswagen?

Q.  What year?
MARK WILSON:  It was a '98.  Brand new when I bought it, it was exciting.

Q.  How many miles did it have on it when you dumped it?
MARK WILSON:¬† I think I got a new one after three years.¬† I think I leased it.¬† So it was like 70,000 after three years.¬† I got a new one.¬† It was fun.¬† It was fun looking at my golf game as a business and trying to figure out what was smart to do.¬† There was a stage there, I think it was 2000, where I was chasing a lot of Nationwide qualifiers.¬† I didn't own a car, because I didn't want to tie down to where I was going to be.¬† I would fly to the Nationwide qualifier, I missed it, I'd fly to the Hooters event. ¬†It's all those decisions I made that make me appreciate staying at the Ritz‑Carlton this week and playing against the 63 other best players in the world.

Q.  Biggest dump of a hotel you ever stayed in?
MARK WILSON:¬† I don't want to put them under the bus.¬† There was a place in Jacksonville, Arkansas.¬† It's outside of Little Rock.¬† It was‑‑ yeah, there were a lot of critters in the room with me and my roommate, I always roomed with somebody else.¬† There was certainly no ironing board.¬† Not only in the room but at the front desk.¬† There's no ironing your clothes at this place.¬† It makes me appreciate, like I said, the Ritz‑Carlton.
MARK STEVENS:  Thanks a lot.  Good luck tomorrow.

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