AMERICA’S Mark Wiebe claimed a dramatic victory over Bernhardt Langer at the 2013 British Senior Open after the longest playoff in the history of the championship.
The pair had to return to Royal Birkdale to battle it out at 8am Monday (local English time) after darkness suspended play at 9.41pm on Sunday following the completion of two extra holes.
It was Wiebe who eventually struck the decisive blow after they played the 18th hole three more times.
Langer had the championship in his grasp with a two shot buffer on the final hole in regulation before fluffing a bunker shot and failing to sink a bogie putt. That put Wiebe (66) and Langer (70) even on 9-under after 72 holes.
“I’m speechless,” said Wiebe, a two-time winner on the US PGA Tour. “Shocked, too. I just planned on Bernie making that putt on the fifth extra hole and I actually was wondering already what hole we were going to go to now. Do we go back to 18 or do I start on a new hole?
“I think it’s always better for both players had there been a birdie to win the playoff instead of a bogey, but right now, I don’t really care. I’m glad it’s over, and I’m honoured.
“I just was luckier today and last night than Bernie I guess. I also feel like Bernie has won, what, a couple hundred tournaments. He’s won so many, I feel like this was my turn.”
Wiebe’s remarkable victory meant disappointment for Langer for a second consecutive year, after the 55 year old had also led by one stroke going into the final round at Turnberry 12 months ago before closing with a 75 to finish tied sixth, coincidentally with Wiebe, behind winner Fred Couples.
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. He is the eight American to win the prestigious title and it would have been Langer’s second.
“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.”
Senior ties for third
Peter Senior also had an excellent week with a final round 4-under 66 seeing him tied for third place along with David Frost (70) and Corey Pavin (65).
Senior shot a flawless final round with four birdies (his last bogey was the first hole of the third round) and, displaying his usual crisp ball striking abilities, had a number of other opportunities that unfortunately didn’t drop.
Peter Fowler (69) was alone in sixth place on 4-under while Steve Elkington (69) finished on level par tied for 11th.Senior British Open Final Results