HONOLULU — Johnson Wagner worked so hard in the off-season that he told friends he was going to win early in the year, and he hardly wasted any time.
Wagner played bogey-free over the last 12 holes, a winning recipe on a tough day at Waialae, and closed with 3-under 67 to pull away from a half-dozen contenders and win the Sony Open on Sunday.
As for that mustache getting so much attention? It’s going to stay for at least another week, and maybe until he gets to Augusta National in April. The third win of his career earned him an invitation to the Masters Tournament.
Wagner, a former Virginia Tech star, was among six players who had a share of the lead at some point in the final round. He was the only guy to stay there, and wound up with a two-shot win over Carl Pettersson, Sean O’Hair, Harrison Frazar and Augusta native Charles Howell.
Coming into the year, Wagner, who finished at 13-under 267, only had seven top 10s in 139 starts on tour, including two wins. He opened the year at Kapalua with a tie for ninth, and then rallied from a two-shot deficit to win the Sony Open.
Frazar had the best chance. He had the outright lead briefly after a birdie at No. 10, then made pars the rest of the way for 67. Pettersson overcame a double bogey on the second hole and finished with four birdies on the last six holes, also for 67.
“My first top 10 as an American,” said Pettersson, the Swede who became an American citizen in the offseason.
O’Hair had a 30-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole that burned the edge. He had to settle for 67, while Howell birdied his last hole for 69 to join the group tied for second.
Jeff Maggert and Matt Every, tied for the lead going into the last day, both collapsed early. Every was 4-over through six holes and rallied for 72. Maggert missed a slew of short putts and shot 74.
Former Louisville, Ga., resident Brian Gay shot 67 and tied for sixth.