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YOU GOTTA BELIEVE
DAMON HACK
April 02, 2012
Mark Wilson's version of small ball—hit fairways and greens, make some putts—has been called boring by some, but the least conspicuous five-time winner in PGA Tour history couldn't care less. His quiet confidence is built on faith, in his ability and his Maker
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April 02, 2012

You Gotta Believe

Mark Wilson's version of small ball—hit fairways and greens, make some putts—has been called boring by some, but the least conspicuous five-time winner in PGA Tour history couldn't care less. His quiet confidence is built on faith, in his ability and his Maker

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Wilson didn't say another word. He went to the garage, grabbed a shovel and scooped at the dirt until dark. When Les walked outside, he saw a bunker so detailed that it had layers on the face that recalled a bunker in the Open Championship.

"He got me," says Les. "I had to fill this thing with sand, but it's paid off. He's a fine trap player."

Beyond golf, Les and his wife, Jinny, imbued their son with their faith, enrolling him in a Lutheran school that started him on his spiritual journey. Wilson's golf shirts are emblazoned with the words time of grace, which refers to an international outreach media ministry.

Wilson says he feels for athletes like Tim Tebow who are criticized for giving honest answers about their faith.

"If people ask me, 'How did you feel out there?' and I talk about Jesus, that's what I was feeling," Wilson says. "I really believe he gives me the peace that's needed to be calm on the golf course. If I'm on TV maybe some people will Google [Time of Grace] and see what it is. They can learn about Jesus in the comfort of their own home and not be pushed or bullied into it, because I don't want to be like that. I don't want to push it down their throats, because that will turn them away."

Wilson is walking through the lobby at the Doral Resort & Spa, unbothered. His wife, Amy, and their two boys, Lane, 4, and Cole, 2, will be arriving soon. Amy is pregnant with the couple's third child—due in August—and the entire family is preparing for a second trip to the Masters. Last year, Wilson played a practice round with Justin (Bud) Jackson carrying his bag. (Bud's brother, Carl, was the longtime Masters looper for Ben Crenshaw.) Wilson missed the cut, but he picked up enough of the greens' subtleties that he believes he will play better this time.

This year the Masters will be more business trip than sightseeing tour. Wilson has been busy dialing in his wedges. He plays a game during practice called 21, in which he drops a ball at a distance between 20 and 100 yards and tries to get up and down.

What the Masters demands—patience, scrambling and a putter that won't quit—Wilson has in abundance. "His short game is as good as anyone's out there, especially his putting," Wilson's swing coach, Jim Suttie, says. "There are guys that wear bright colors and funny hats that get notoriety, but he goes about his business. I would say he's the most underrated player on the PGA Tour."

In 2006, Wilson moved to the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst. On one side of the basement sits a golf swing simulator. On the other side is a putting green, where a man can look back to his childhood and forward to Augusta National.

Follow @markwilsongolf

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