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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, August 15, 2006

There's just no quit in Wilson

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

In an era of instant messaging and immediate expectations, meet Dean Wilson, golf's latest poster player for the virtues of patience and perseverance.

While we can't wait to identify the next teenage phenomenon or breathlessly anoint the newest can't-miss wunderkind, the 36-year-old Wilson reminds us there is something to be said, too, for the doggedly persistent among us. That there is something to celebrate about the steadfast and unrelenting in sports.

Quite a lot, actually.

Wilson's birdie on the second hole of sudden-death playoff Sunday in the International clinched the first victory on the PGA Tour for the Kane'ohe native. It was a triumph over uphill circumstance and long odds as much as a win over U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman and the field.

It was a victory for the ages, or what surely must have seemed like them for Wilson, who has been banging around as a pro since 1992 and had played 117 PGA Tour events without a victory.

Wilson's overnight success has been decades in the painstaking making. He was hardly besieged with endorsement offers, let alone scholarships, when he came out of Castle High in the 1980s to an uncertain future.

His career was so heaven-sent that the one place he did find to play, Brigham Young University-Hawai'i, folded its golf program while he was there. He walked on at BYU-Provo and, after graduation, walked the globe 18 holes at a time. Canada, the Asian Tour, the Japan Tour, the Nationwide Tour. He played them all while climbing the ladder of his profession. Often two steps up and one back.

He went to qualifying school and finally won his PGA Tour card at age 32. And he lost it and went back again.

Amid the ups and downs, his BYU-Provo golf coach, Karl Tucker, remembers asking Wilson, "How much longer are you gonna do this?" To which Tucker said Wilson would resolutely reply, "As long as it takes."

It became so much a motto as a statement that Wilson might as well have had it printed on his bag.

Said Tucker: "That's why I take my hat off to him. The odds were stacked against him. You talk about guys who have gumption and outright guts. (Most) people don't have a clue how tough it is to get there."

But the PGA Tour is apparently the place to find the ones that do this year. Of the nine first-time winners on Tour, four have needed more than 100 tournaments to do it. Then, there's Corey Pavin, a once-upon-a-time Hawaiian Open double winner who won this summer after a 10-year, 242-tournament drought.

You hope Wilson doesn't have to wait that long for win No. 2. But one thing we've already learned about Wilson and have to admire is that he's definitely in this for the long haul.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.