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Wagner comes out on top at Waialae

Strong finish gives mustachioed golfer two-stroke victory

January 16, 2012
By DOUG FERGUSON , The Associated Press

HONOLULU - Johnson Wagner was bursting with so much excitement about his game at the start of the year that his father jokingly asked if he was on speed. It was just confidence, the most powerful drug in golf.

He worked harder than ever in the offseason and lost 20 pounds. He grew a mustache and developed thick skin from the reaction to it. And he told his friends and family that he would win early in the year and go to the Masters.

Wagner backed it all up Sunday in the Sony Open.

Article Photos

Johnson Wagner celebrates Sunday after winning the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club.
AP photo

He played bogey-free over the last 12 holes, a winning recipe on a tough day at Waialae Country Club, and closed with a 3-under 67 for a two-shot victory that filled him with even more confidence about his game and the rest of the season.

"I was definitely telling people to expect something early this year, which is a nice feeling," Wagner said. "Usually, my confidence is low. I'm kind of shy in a little shell. And for some reason, I just had way more energy and confidence going into this year."

It was his third career victory on the PGA Tour, and it sends him to the Masters, along with allowing him to book another two-week working vacation in Hawaii next year.

Wagner, who finished at 13-under 267 and earned $990,000, was among six players who had at least a share of the lead at some point in the final round. He was the only guy to stay there.

Harrison Frazar took the outright lead with a birdie on No. 10, but had to settle for pars the rest of the way for a 67. Charles Howell III was paired with Wagner and stayed with him until a three-putt par on the par-5 ninth. He birdied the last hole for a 69. Sean O'Hair narrowly missed a 30-foot eagle putt on the last hole and shot 67, while Carl Pettersson overcame a double bogey on his second hole with four birdies on the last six holes for a 67.

They all tied for second.

"My first top 10 as an American," said Pettersson, the Swede who became a U.S. citizen during the offseason.

They were all chasing Wagner, who seized control with a 9-iron into the 15th that was pin-high, just off the green. He rolled that in for birdie, and then didn't come close to making a mistake until he nearly missed a tap-in par on the 18th.

Coming into the year, Wagner had only seven top 10s - including two wins - in 139 tournaments. He had never made it to the Tour Championship and played in only four majors.

But what a transformation. Along with his work ethic, he began jotting notes and goals into a notebook, using the green cover he received in 2008 from his lone Masters appearance.

With respect to his mustache - Frazar made a "Magnum P.I." reference during last week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua - the biggest change with Wagner was his attitude.

"I love being out here. There's so many great players," he said. "But why are they any better? Why are the people in the top 50 better than me? I've always struggled a little bit with believing in myself."

As for that mustache getting so much attention?

Wagner didn't shave during Thanksgiving and kept the mustache.

"Kind of made a deal with myself in December that if I was to get into the Masters, then I was going to keep the mustache for at least this year," he said.

"So I think it's going to be around for a while."

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 a 72. Maggert missed a slew of short putts and shot 74.

Kapalua champion Steve Stricker, ranked No. 5 in the world ranking, struggled to a 74 and finished tied for 38th place at 4 under.

Tadd Fujikawa closed with a 67 to tie for 19th at 7 under. The 21-year-old Moanalua High School graduate earned $69,025.

*****

PGA Sony Open

Sunday's Final Round

At Honolulu

Johnson Wagner (500), $990,00068-66-66-67—267-13
Carl Pettersson (184), $363,00065-67-70-67—269-11
Sean O’Hair (184), $363,00067-67-68-67—269-11
Harrison Frazar (184), $363,00067-68-67-67—269-11
Charles Howell III (184), $363,00067-67-66-69—269-11
Michael Thompson (89), $178,06370-65-68-67—270-10
Brian Gay (89), $178,06369-69-65-67—270-10
D.A. Points (89), $178,06368-69-64-69—270-10
Matt Every (89), $178,06366-64-68-72—270-10
John Rollins (70), $137,50070-68-69-64—271-9
David Hearn (70), $137,50066-66-70-69—271-9
Brendon de Jonge (70), $137,50071-62-67-71—271-9
Chris DiMarco (56), $97,16770-65-70-67—272-8
Brendon Todd (56), $97,16768-68-68-68—272-8
Chris Stroud (56), $97,16768-68-67-69—272-8
Keegan Bradley (56), $97,16767-67-68-70—272-8
Ted Potter, Jr. (56), $97,16768-68-66-70—272-8
Jeff Maggert (56), $97,16769-65-64-74—272-8
Tadd Fujikawa (0), $69,02569-66-71-67—273-7
George McNeill (51), $69,02569-70-66-68—273-7
Joe Ogilvie (51), $69,02571-68-66-68—273-7
William McGirt (51), $69,02567-67-70-69—273-7
Colt Knost (46), $47,57566-71-69-68—274-6
Kyle Stanley (46), $47,57566-68-70-70—274-6
Will Claxton (46), $47,57566-69-69-70—274-6
John Senden (46), $47,57568-67-68-71—274-6
Spencer Levin (46), $47,57567-67-68-72—274-6
Scott Piercy (46), $47,57569-68-65-72—274-6
Stewart Cink (38), $32,75670-66-71-68—275-5
Jerry Kelly (38), $32,75670-66-70-69—275-5
Rory Sabbatini (38), $32,75667-71-68-69—275-5
Bud Cauley (38), $32,75666-68-70-71—275-5
Kris Blanks (38), $32,75668-66-69-72—275-5
Billy Mayfair (38), $32,75668-67-68-72—275-5
Graham DeLaet (38), $32,75663-72-68-72—275-5
Sang-Moon Bae (38), $32,75668-68-66-73—275-5
Duffy Waldorf (38), $32,75669-66-66-74—275-5
Webb Simpson (30), $22,00066-72-70-68—276-4
Chris Kirk (30), $22,00069-70-68-69—276-4
Gavin Coles (30), $22,00069-66-71-70—276-4
Josh Teater (30), $22,00069-67-70-70—276-4
J.J. Killeen (30), $22,00068-69-69-70—276-4
Corey Pavin (30), $22,00070-67-68-71—276-4
K.J. Choi (30), $22,00065-73-67-71—276-4
Steve Stricker (30), $22,00066-69-67-74—276-4
Vijay Singh (22), $14,70971-67-71-68—277-3
Bobby Gates (22), $14,70968-68-70-71—277-3
Tom Pernice Jr. (22), $14,70969-70-67-71—277-3
Daniel Summerhays (22), $14,70969-69-67-72—277-3
Jhonattan Vegas (22), $14,70967-71-67-72—277-3
Pat Perez (22), $14,70966-67-71-73—277-3
Stephen Ames (22), $14,70967-68-67-75—277-3
John Huh (18), $12,98072-65-70-71—278-2
Zach Johnson (15), $12,54072-65-72-70—279-1
Tim Herron (15), $12,54068-71-70-70—279-1
Jeff Overton (15), $12,54069-70-69-71—279-1
Jonas Blixt (15), $12,54072-67-68-72—279-1
Doug LaBelle II (0), $12,54066-67-70-76—279-1
Roberto Castro (9), $11,88067-69-73-71—280E
Koumei Oda (0), $11,88072-65-70-73—280E
Tommy Biershenk (9), $11,88071-66-70-73—280E
Brian Harman (9), $11,88072-66-69-73—280E
Greg Owen (9), $11,88069-69-69-73—280E
Kevin Chappell (9), $11,88072-67-67-74—280E
Ken Duke (9), $11,88066-69-68-77—280E
Seung-yul Noh (5), $11,44066-72-71-72—281+1
Erik Compton (4), $11,27571-68-70-73—282+2
Harris English (4), $11,27567-70-70-75—282+2
Jarrod Lyle (2), $11,11069-70-70-74—283+3
Justin Leonard (1), $11,00071-68-69-76—284+4

 
 

 

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