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Wilson stayed composed while playing 36 holes on Sony Open's final day

By Dave Reardon

LAST UPDATED: 1:46 a.m. HST, Jan 17, 2011

Anyone who has trudged the laborious march known as the Manoa Cup up and down the hills of Nuuanu at Oahu Country Club will tell you 36 holes on a flat course like the one at Waialae is nothing.

It's just double your pleasure.

But there's a big difference between playing for a state amateur match-play championship and a PGA Tour win.

Win the Manoa Cup and you get thrown in the pool. Win the Sony Open in Hawaii and you get to play in The Masters ... oh, yeah, there's a nearly seven-figure paycheck, too, plus a lot of other goodies like the closest thing to job security a touring pro can hope for.

So there's a little bit of psychological pressure, and on a Sunday when you play twice as many holes as usual, consider it more likely compounded than doubled.

IF MARK WILSON felt extremely under the gun yesterday while closing his third career PGA Tour victory — and doing so from out front — he didn't show it. There was that fist pump of relief and triumph after the clutch par-save on 17, but other than that Wilson was no emotion and all efficiency in holding off Steve Marino.

Wilson's wife, Amy, joked that Mark trained in the short offseason by eating Christmas cookies. But the way he zipped around during the short break between 18s and even between shots on his 29th hole of the day to take care of a quick errand made it clear: This 5-foot-8, 145-pound 36-year-old is in great shape. And it translated into steady play, including not even one hole over par yesterday.

"I worked out pretty hard with my trainer (Cory Puyear) in December and November," Wilson said. "I didn't really feel tired in any way and didn't make any swings down the stretch that felt like they were tired swings. So I guess it helped me. If you're going to play 36 holes on any golf course, this is a good one to do it on because it's pretty flat, all the holes are close together."

NOT THAT Marino faded. He had plenty of gas left in the tank after chasing Wilson most the day, even though he noted after Friday's first round that he's a "big boy," and he felt the heat.

If Wilson didn't make that tricky putt on 17 yesterday, a playoff loomed large. And if Marino keeps up the steady play that had him under par all four rounds here, he'll continue to contend — especially when the tour hits longer courses suited to his big drives.

Most of the young guys out here have played 36 in one day recently, so for them it wasn't that big a deal. Marino thought about it a bit, and remembered that U.S. Open qualifiers require double duty.

"I feel pretty good right now," said Marino, who earlier in the week talked about how he gave up alcohol for 2011, at least the first month of it. "If we'd gone to a playoff the adrenaline would've kicked in."

Not all thrived, compressing two days work into one.

Shigeki Maruyama, who led at 10 under after Saturday's second round, was bothered by a leg injury and dropped to a tie for seventh after shooting 1 under yesterday. Defending champion Ryan Palmer started the day 3 under, shot par in the morning and 3 over in the afternoon.

Jimmy Walker celebrated his birthday with 66 and 68 for a fourth-place finish, but acknowledged it wasn't a fun day for all. "You know, after a nice long fat holiday, it's probably not your favorite thing to go do 36 on a Sunday, but I felt pretty good."

And, we'll leave you with this, the (very) early leader in the clubhouse for quote of the year. Rookie Nate Smith, 27, faded to 74 in the afternoon after his first three rounds were under par.

"Maybe I need to put on a few pounds and get that 46-year-old beer gut going that some of these guys got. Maybe that will help me get around a little better in the afternoon round. Maybe I just have too much energy."

Reach Star-Advertiser columnist Dave Reardon at

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