Wiebe claims dramatic play-off victory
The American edges out Bernhard Langer at the fifth tie hole to win the British Senior Open
The result was a Monday finish for the first time in the tournament’s 27 year history, and Langer immediately had a chance of securing victory at the third additional hole but saw his 12-foot birdie putt stay out.
The fourth hole was then halved with bogeys, before Wiebe claimed the senior Claret Jug, the €240,000 first prize, and a place in next year’s Open Championship at nearby Royal Liverpool, with a fine par at the next.
Wiebe had been without a top ten finish all year on the US Champions Tour, having struggled with a back and arm injury, but he put those ailments to one side to win on his sixth Senior Open appearance.
“Once I realised I could play and it didn’t hurt very much to swing, I was instantly in a great mood, and I knew I was playing good,” said Wiebe.
“I had been playing with my son who kicks my rear end a lot, and he even said, ‘Dad, you’re playing great.’ I said, ‘well, it’s something that I can do when I’m not having this pain and I think that helped me so much with my attitude, just being able to swing a golf club. I love playing over here. I just love it. It’s the greatest.”
Langer, who has never finished outside the top 12 in the Senior Open, was both philosophical and gracious in defeat.
“It was really my tournament to win or lose coming down 18 on Sunday, and I made a major error by taking on the green,” said Langer.
“It almost felt like Jean Van de Velde, if not quite. But that was certainly a bad error and shouldn’t have happened as experienced as I am. But under the battle and are under the long delay, we had two rain delays, as you know, the mind and the brain doesn’t always work 100 per cent right.
“Mark is a very deserving champion. He played a great week of golf, and we know he’s a great putter and he’s hit some really good shots this week.”
On Sunday, South African David Frost closed out with a level par 70 to finish in a tie for third alongside Australian Peter Senior (66) and 2010 US Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin, who equalled the low-round of the week with a five under par 65 to continue his incredible Senior Open record having finished second in 2010, tied third in 2011 and tied third last year.
Australian Peter Fowler, the 2011 Senior Tour Order of Merit winner, was a further two shots back on four under par while Scotland’s Sandy Lyle was the highest home finisher at seventh following a level par 70.
Complete final round scores from Royal Birkdale (par 70)
271 M Wiebe (USA) 70 65 70 66, B Langer (Ger) 68 67 66 70,
274 P Senior (Aus) 68 71 69 66, C Pavin (USA) 69 71 69 65, D Frost (RSA) 68 68 68 70,