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Winner drains birdie at 18 as sun fades

LA QUINTA, Calif. — Mark Wilson's last day at the Humana Challenge started before sunrise and ended after sunset. In between, he finished his third round, got his kids ready for day care at his in-laws' house, then held off several hard-charging contenders amid the final round's growing dark and desert chill.

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Yep, Wilson certainly earned the trophy he promptly broke.

Wilson made a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the Humana Challenge on Sunday, beating Robert Garrigus, John Mallinger and Johnson Wagner by two strokes in a dramatic dusk finish to the wind-delayed tournament.

Moments after Garrigus barely missed a 35-foot eagle putt that would have given him the lead, Wilson coolly made his birdie try in the disappearing light before celebrating his fifth career PGA Tour victory with a surprisingly fragile trophy from the erstwhile Bob Hope Classic.

"Robert and I, going back and forth, we really enjoyed that," Wilson said. "It just came down to 18, and I didn't want to give him a chance to make that putt to tie me. … That's what we play for. You want somebody to win it, not necessarily to lose it."

Wilson led by three strokes in the morning after finishing the final three holes of his third round at La Quinta Country Club, which got the most damage from Saturday's ferocious wind. He lost the lead on the Palmer Private course but played bogey-free over the final 15 holes.

Every other competitor dropped back, including Garrigus, who fell out of the lead when he missed a 5½-foot par putt on the 17th. "We really couldn't see much," he said. "I could barely pick up the flag on 18. … I wish I could have read that putt a little better."

Wilson closed with a 3-under 69 to finish at 24-under 260, taking the $1,008,000 winner's share of the $5.6 million purse.

Champions: Dan Forsman, 53, won the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship for his third senior title, closing with a 3-under 69 for a two-stroke victory over Jay Don Blake in Hawaii. Forsman finished at 15-under 201 while Blake shot 67. John Cook shot 68 to tie for third with Michael Allen at 12 under.

Winner drains birdie at 18 as sun fades 01/22/12 [Last modified: Sunday, January 22, 2012 10:58pm]
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