Wilson, anxious to start season, now hopes to build on his early success

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Unlike most other seasons, Mark Wilson couldn't wait to get going this year.
By
PA Sport

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Published: Thursday, February 17, 2011 | 12:24 p.m.

Mark Wilson believes a rediscovered excitement for golf is the key factor in his excellent start to the 2011 season.

The 35-year-old has enjoyed a memorable start to the year after doubling his number of PGA Tour titles with wins in last month's Sony Open in Hawaii and the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this month, all on the back of a disappointing 2010 that saw him finish a lowly 123rd on the money list.

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And Illinois native Wilson, who goes in search of another title in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club this week, admits his poor form meant he could not wait for the offseason to end.

"The thing that stands out is that I was really excited to get started for the year, and that's very rare for me,” he said. "I really like being home and I really enjoyed November and December, and maybe it was because I didn't have a great year last year. I finished 123rd on the money list and I was just really anxious to do better.

"It was the first year since 2007 really, or since 2008, where I felt like I could easily beat my performances from the year before,” he noted. "The other years, 2007, 2008 and 2009 I had good years, so to have to back those up was always a challenge, whereas this year I could blow 2010 out easily. So I was really anxious to get going.

"I had all my gear all packed up a couple days after Christmas and we weren't leaving for Palm Springs until January 10,” he said. "So I think that was the thing, that I was anxious to get going, to play golf, and when it's fun your scores seem to be better."

Former world No. 1 Tiger Woods is not competing at Riviera after his disappointing performance in the European Tour event in Dubai last week, but Phil Mickelson is being tipped by many as a potential winner after finishing in a tie for ninth at Pebble Beach. But Wilson says he is not worried about who the pundits are tipping for success, knowing he needs to focus on his own game to be successful.

"Anyone can win, really," he added. "You never know. You can't try to beat a player. I mean, there's no defense in golf. You just play the golf course and do the best you can. I'm trying to birdie every hole I play.

“That doesn't mean I'm firing at every pin, I'm just thinking strategically through the course,” he stressed. "That may mean hitting a 5-iron 40 feet from the hole and trying to make the 40-foot putt. It might mean hitting a wedge close and making a putt. I'm out there just trying to shoot the best score I can and seeing how that shapes up with the field at the end of the week."