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HONOLULU, HAWAII—Dean Wilson, the most successful Hawaii golfer to ever play the PGA Tour, will be inducted into the Aloha Section PGA Hawaii Golf Hall of Fame at the 11th annual Hoolaulea Awards Banquet. The banquet is set for 5:30pm Saturday, February 9th at the Manoa Grand Ballroom of the Japanese Cultural Center.
Wilson, 49, played on the PGA Tour for almost a decade, winning once and racking up 21 top ten finishes and $8.9 million in earnings. Outsdie of the U.S., he earned an additional $6 million, winning six times on the Japan Golf Tour, including the 2001 Japan PGA stroke and match play championshps, both major events in Japan.
“It’s a great honor to be inducted into the Hawaii Golf Hall of Fame,” Wilson said. “When you go down the list of inductees, it’s all the names in Hawaii golf that I grew up with and looked up to. It’s a real thrill to be included alongside them.”
Wilson’s success defied the odds. A Japanese – American youth from a working-class Oahu family, he went to a public high school and learned to play golf on a municial course. he never had a swing instructor or motivational coach. He never received college scholarship offers or had investors to back him on tour.
“Dean Wilson is a kid who came out of no where,” Bruce Brockbank, his golf coach at Bringham Young University in Utah, once said. “Everyone though he would never make it to the PGA Tour. But he worked really hard and became an outstanding golfer.”
Dean Hiroshi Wilson grew up in Kaneohe, Oahu. Grace Wilson, his Japanese mother, was an avid golfer and introduced him to the game at age 13. Pretty soon, she was dropping him off daily at the Pali Golf Course, and he progressed enough to play high school and junior golf. But he never was one of the top players.
After graduating from Castle High School, Wilson wanted to play at a major mainland university, but only the coach from BYU- Hawaii called. He told Dean, “Play here a year, and if you do well, transfer up to the main Utah campus.” So that’s what Wilson did.
At BYU- Utah, Wilson was a walk on. Together with future Masters champion Mike Weir, he led BYU to three straight Western Athletic Conference titles between 1990-1992. In 1991, he was the individual WAC Champion.
After college, he turned professional and for seven years and played the Australian, Canadian and Asian tours. In 2000, he qualified for the lucrative Japanese PGA Tour and won the Aiful Cup and Rookie of the Year honors.
Wilson made it onto the PGA Tour on his eighth try in 2002. His best year on tour was 2006, when he won The International at the Castle Pines Golf Club and placed second at the Valero Texas Open. He finished the year with $2.5 million in earnings.
In 2003, Wilson gained international notoriety at the Colonial Invitational in Forth Worth, Texas, playing alongside Annika Sorenstam when she became the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to compete in a PGA Tour event.
Wilson played in five major championships and finished tied for 30th or better in three of them: the 2001 U.S. Open, the 2006 PGA Championship and the 2007 Masters. His other career victories include the 1999 Utah Open, the 2001 Ube Kosan Open, the 2002 Tsuruya Open and the 2002 Mizuno Open. He won the Hawaii State Open in 2007, 2012 and 2014.