LA QUINTA, Calif. — Mark Wilson’s last day at the Humana Challenge started before sunrise and ended after sunset.
In between, he finished his third round 5-under-par 67, got his kids ready for day care at his in-laws’ house, and then held off several hard-charging contenders.
Yep, Wilson certainly earned the trophy he promptly broke.
Wilson made a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole for 69 to win the Humana Challenge on Sunday.
He beat Robert Garrigus, John Mallinger and Johnson Wagner by two strokes in a dramatic dusk finish to the wind-delayed tournament.
Moments after Garrigus barely missed a 35-foot eagle putt that would have given him the lead, Wilson coolly made his birdie try in the disappearing light before celebrating his fifth career PGA Tour victory with a surprisingly fragile trophy from the erstwhile Bob Hope Classic.
“Robert and I, going back and forth, we really enjoyed that,” Wilson said. “It just came down to 18, and I didn’t want to give him a chance to make that putt to tie me. ... That’s what we play for. You want somebody to win it, not necessarily to lose it.”
Wilson led by three strokes Sunday morning after finishing the final three holes of his third round at La Quinta Country Club, which got the most damage from Saturday’s ferocious wind.
After a quick trip back to his in-laws’ place nearby, he quickly lost the lead on the low-scoring Palmer Private course, but played bogey-free over the final 15 holes.
Every other competitor dropped back – including Garrigus, who fell out of the lead when he missed a
51/2-foot par putt on the 17th.
“We really couldn’t see much,” said Garrigus, who finished a third-round 61 earlier Sunday.
“I could barely pick up the flag on 18. We had a great day, and it got pretty dark. I wish I could have read that putt a little better.”
Wilson finished at 24 under, taking the $1,008,000 winner’s share of the $5.6 million purse despite the growing dark and cold.
While most everybody else pulled on sweaters for the final holes, the Wisconsin native stayed in his polo shirt out of superstition and familiarity.
“It’s a feel thing,” Wilson said. “I’ve been playing with short sleeves all day. I didn’t just want to put it on and get a new feeling, because everything was going well.”