Wilcox taking success in stride
by Erich Hilkert
Former Pell City standout golf player Will Wilcox is taking things in stride. He recently made history at the Utah Championship, but insists it was just another event in a long season.

Well, there were a few differences at the Web.com event. Videographers swooped in like hungry vultures feasting on fresh road kill and all Wilcox could do was laugh at the comic absurdity of the situation.

“Going down the 18th (hole), I looked at my caddy and just kind of started laughing and he just started laughing,” he said. “We were just kind of like, ‘This is ridiculous.’ I was 10 through 13, so once that putt went in to get to 10 that was the longest putt I’ve made all year. It was just one of those weeks where we were just out there laughing it off. It was just kind of funny, really. I mean it really was — it was just hilarious because I just couldn’t believe what was going on. There was a camera 6 inches from my face the last three holes. I had never been in that moment. I haven’t really gotten hardly any TV coverage or any coverage at all, even after I won. They don’t cover me; they cover all the big boys. Now that I’m playing as good as I am they seem to be paying a lot more attention. We were just laughing about the fact that I’ve gotten zero coverage and then, bam, they’re just right in my face.”

Despite the harsh glow of the spotlight suddenly thrust upon the 27-year-old Wilcox, he remained calm and managed to stay focused on the task at hand.

“It was an easy hole,” Wilcox said. “I think that hole is maybe a 390, 395 (yards), so pretty simple par four. I hit a 7-iron off the tee. We were playing at an altitude, so the ball was going seven percent farther. I was hitting a 7-iron pitching wedge, where most guys are hitting 4-iron. I had a nice advantage in that I was hitting it a long way. It just came together. I wasn’t even really nervous; I just wanted to make birdie really bad.”

Wilcox believes shooting a subpar 71 on the Saturday prior to his record-setting day actually helped him to become just the fourth professional golf player in Web.com history to shoot 59 for a round.

“We were just out there swatting it,” he said. “It’s just like another round. I just happened to play really good that day. I’ve been working really hard. I just made a lot of birdies and made an eagle — a really timely eagle — and it just kind of came together in the final round. I played so poorly Saturday. I shot even on the course. It was one of the worst rounds of the day. I made the cut. Anyway, I was toward the bottom of the barrel going into Sunday. It was just a thing where I was teeing off on the back nine. It’s pretty easy to swing freely when you’re 10 shots off the lead.”

Feeling no pressure, Wilcox finished the final day of the Utah Championship at 12-under with 10 birdies and an eagle.

With Wilcox playing in the Midwest Classic this weekend, he has made the cut in 12 of the 14 events he has played in, including making 11 straight cuts. He also has three top 10 finishes in his third full season on the Web.com tour, including two straight. Despite his record-setting day in the Utah Championship, he finished tied for third overall. He also finished ninth in June at the United Leasing Championship. However, Wilcox believes his best round of golf this season was in Valdosta, where he notched his first win on the Web.com tour at the South Georgia Classic.

“I’ve only missed two cuts,” he said. “As seasons go, I’m having a very good one. I played good in the third round of the tournament I won in Valdosta. I was 10-under going into the last hole there and bogeyed. I would say that’s probably the best round I’ve ever played — in Valdosta. I was able to take a sizable lead into the last round. It was outstanding. I’m just enjoying things. I’m proud of myself for being able to stick to my plan. I’m just trying to give everybody something fun to watch.”

Despite a busy schedule, Wilcox maintains regular contact with his friends in Pell City. His friend Rodney Talley keeps him updated on the pride residents feel in Wilcox’s recent success.

“My buddy Rodney Talley — he lives there in Riverside — and I definitely talk to him multiple times a week and he tells me everybody is just freaking out,” Wilcox said. “I just let everybody else do the talking for me. Rodney, he fields all the calls from home. Nobody really contacts me. I just hear it through the grapevine that everybody’s excited.”

When discussing his future, Wilcox doesn’t want to look any further than next year. He maintains following a routine and staying focused on the present have helped keep him level-headed.

“I have goals, but they’re more just short-term,” he said. “Golf goals are a little different than most just because you can’t set your goals crazy high. You’ve got to just take it as it comes. I didn’t believe that I could win until I won. I know I can win now, obviously, but it’s just kind of a situation where I’m just excited about next year. I don’t want to look ahead too far because it’s just kind of overwhelming. I just want to enjoy my time. I feel really, really lucky, just extremely lucky.”

© 2013