March 28, 2008 (UPDATED MARCH 31) –Dean Wilson is one of a couple dozen touring pros that either lives in Las Vegas, grew up playing Las Vegas golf courses, and/or has other deep ties to Las Vegas golf. For Wilson, he moved here a few years ago, and is one of several Las Vegas pro golfers (Alex Cejka, Charley Hoffman, Bob May, Erica Blasberg are others) that practices at TPC Las Vegas and TPC Summerlin, sometimes playing fun, money games (as he did during a recent break) to pass the time. Wilson fired a first-round 66 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and sat atop the leaderboard. And he jokingly (?) said that it was all because he recently underwent a procedure. "… Just a little lobotomy, which is what I needed," said Wilson, when asked if a technical or other change made his low score possible. Unfortunately the lobotomy didn't take as he ended up in a tie for 42nd. Tommy Armour III led golfers with Las Vegas ties aftera final-round 66 catapulted him into a tie for 7th.
Wilson also credited some recent time off in Las Vegas for his great start, and for just teeing it up and enjoying the game. He was off to a slow start in 2008 and admittedly was not playing well.
"I don't know, I've struggled a little bit," Wilson told the media following his round. "I took a couple weeks off and just went home and tried to clear my brain and just play golf rather than maybe sit on the range and fiddle with my swing. I think that helped. You know, I just tried to play a lot of golf the last couple weeks.
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"I decided just to go and play, so I'd find my buddies and just try and go play every day and have little games and see if that happened, and I think that cleared my mind a little bit from all the swing thoughts that always dance around in my head."
Other Las Vegas pro golfers in the field include Craig Barlow, Alex Cejka, Tommy Armour III and Nick Watney who were tied for third entering the third round, Robert Gamez, Chad Campbell, John Riegger and Charley Hoffman.
Official Dean Wilson first-round news conference from asapsports.com
JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Dean, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Nice solid round out there, 66, and a great finish with those four birdies in the last six holes. Talk about the day.
DEAN WILSON: Let's see, got off to a good start, birdied the first hole, so that's always nice. I think stepping out on this course with the wind blowing, you never know what you're going to get, and it just looks so — it looks so tough looking down the first fairway, and I think birdieing the first hole got me in a good frame of mind, and it led from there.
Q. You got off to a kind of a slow start this year. What's got the ball rolling here, so to speak?
DEAN WILSON: I don't know, I've struggled a little bit. I took a couple weeks off and just went home and tried to clear my brain and just play golf rather than maybe sit on the range and fiddle with my swing. I think that helped. You know, I just tried to play a lot of golf the last couple weeks.
Q. No changes, no technical changes, no technique modifications?
DEAN WILSON: No, just a little lobotomy, which is what I needed.
Q. Does this round surprise you?
DEAN WILSON: A little bit, to tell you the truth. You know, it's — when I haven't shot too many scores under par, to come out here and shoot 6-under on a course which I think is a real fair test and in some wind like this, I'm real happy with it.
Q. You were able to control it in the wind, and Briny Baird said it was blowing at 50 miles an hour.
DEAN WILSON: I don't know if it was 50 —
Q. He was kidding.
DEAN WILSON: It's tough out there. All you have to do is if you put a little cross-wind and put a hazard on one side and a bunker you don't want to be in on the other side of the fairway, it really changes your perspective on how to play the hole. You've got to get up there and make some clear decisions and confident decisions and go with it.
Q. So the mental part of it was big today for you?
DEAN WILSON: Yeah, I think so. You know, I think maybe it's so tough out there, I didn't really have a choice. You know, you get up there and you've got no choice. You've got to hit it right here and make a good swing. There's no bail-out. So I think maybe that helped a little bit today.
Q. Did the wind die down or was it tough the whole round?
DEAN WILSON: I think it blew the whole time around. Making those birdies four of the last six holes, I guess, most of them are downwind holes. Well, one was into the wind, but it was a par-3. You know, it's difficult, some of these holes into the wind. We're laughing, but the tees were still all the way back, and the one straight into the wind, one of the holes none of us reached, No. 4, or the hole I bogeyed, 6. It was a pretty tough hole.
Q. Would you say when you step to 1, is this an intimidating course?
DEAN WILSON: I think so. I think all Pete Dye courses to me are, just because of how he places the hazards and what they're like. You know, you hit them in these bunkers, the fairway bunkers, most of the time you don't have a shot to the green. So you know that if you're in there you're chipping out. It's kind of like — almost like being in U.S. Open rough or something. You've got no shot at the green, you just pitch out and try to hit your third on the green.
With that he really makes you think about where you want to hit the ball and makes you — I don't know if fear is the word, but you're just trying to — you're trying to stay away from the trouble.
Q. Elk has said that this is a thinking man's course. Would you agree that you need to think around this course?
DEAN WILSON: Yeah, I would think so, just because there's a lot of penalty out there. So you can't just get up and bomb it and chase it.
Q. What was your best shot today, considering the conditions and everything, the wind?
DEAN WILSON: Best shot today? I didn't make a birdie on that hole, but I think it was 14, straight into the wind. I hit a nice little 4-iron in there — sorry. No, it was 12, long hole on 12. But any shot that's two and a quarter into the wind and you get it anywhere near the pin, I'm pretty happy with that.
Q. I think from Sony you played seven weeks straight?
DEAN WILSON: Yeah.
Q. When you're struggling like that, how mentally taxing is it?
DEAN WILSON: Yeah, it's taxing. You know, I've always played a lot of events, and so it's taxing just because if you're missing cuts, you go home early or you've got to find something to do. I'm trying to build some confidence, trying to build some momentum. It's tough because you're not making any birdies or you're not doing anything positive. Luckily with golf, you've got to get up the next day and go at it. You're only as good as your last round, so you can wake up and say I'm going to get it today and try to play a good round.
Q. Was there any thought to modifying that or taking a week off in that stretch and saying I just need to shut it down?
DEAN WILSON: Yeah, sure, there's always that thought. And like I said, I took the last two weeks off. I could tell that my patience was getting a little low. I was getting a little frustrated. My caddie and I agreed just to go home, try to take a break and try to figure out what to do, whether to sit away from golf or go on the range and try to work it out.
I decided just to go and play, so I'd find my buddies and just try and go play every day and have little games and see if that happened, and I think that cleared my mind a little bit from all the swing thoughts that always dance around in my head.
JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Dean.