AUTHOR : MARK BUTTON
Mark Button has spent the past 17-plus years writing about sports for newspapers, magazines and the Internet. He's worked for the Dallas Morning News, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Rocky Mountain News, CNN/SportsIllustrated.com, Mobile Press-Register and Avid Golfer.
Originally from Kansas, Button has worked for Texas Links since 2008. He published his first children's book in 2011. "Finding Ti Ming & Tem Po, Legend of the golf gods" is a magical journey filled with character-building life lessons. Button plays golf about four times a month and carries an 8.7 GHIN handicap index.
HUMBLE, Texas—When the Shell Houston Open begins Thursday with the opening round, golf fans will roam The Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club and watch their favorite PGA Tour stars. They’ll get up-close and personal looks at household names like Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Ernie Els, Lee Westwood and Rickie Fowler.
One player who fans might not know by name—but will by sight—is Johnson Wagner.
People call him the “Mustache Guy.”
Since last fall, the 2008 SHO champion has sported a bushy mustache that would make Burt Reynolds and Magnum P.I. proud.
On lark last November, Wagner, who grew up in Amarillo and lives in Charlotte, N.C., stopped shaving. Despite his wife Katie’s complaints, Wagner kept the ’stache heading into the season-opening Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, a trip he earned by winning the Mayakoba Classic last February.
Players such as Harrison Frazar hazed Wagner, 32, about the facial hair, but when Wagner scored a top 10 in Maui, the mustache earned credibility. Even so, the heckling intensified days later at the Sony Open in Hawaii. One fan on the first tee box proclaimed, “The 1960s called. They want their mustache back!”
Well, they can’t have it.
Wagner lit up the Sony Open with four rounds in the 60s. He won his third career PGA Tour title by two strokes over a group of four players that included Frazar.
Sampson had his golden locks. Wagner has the bushy ’stache.
He leads the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Standings and has the tour’s 12th-best scoring average (69.88). In nine starts, Wagner has four top 10s this season, including a fourth-place tie last week at Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. That performance vaulted him to career-best 63rd place in the World Golf Rankings. He’s already won more than $1.9 million in three months’ time this season.
While the thought of a mustache may seem corny to most, Wagner has never looked better.
“It’s definitely not going anywhere,” said Wagner, who shot 16-under par and held off Texan Chad Campbell by two shots to win the 2008 SHO. “I mean, it’s been insane. For the last few weeks I’ve had a couple good pairings and people know who I am. I don’t think they know my name, but they know me as the ‘Mustache Guy.’
Wagner had some laughs with the media on Tuesday about his new look, but he’s making no apologies. He loves the mustache and joked about plans to monetize it with a logo to display on his golf shits.
“It’s kind of given me my own little brand, I guess,” he said. “Maybe I’ll start wearing (a mustache logo) across my chest.”
When you head out to the SHO this week and see the guy who looks like Tom Selleck, you can impress your friends by knowing his name is Johnson Wagner.
Don’t worry if you forget it, however. He’ll still answer to the “Mustache Guy.”