Round 3 Notebook: Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn

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June 12, 2011
Phil Stambaugh, Champions Tour staff

Weather: Sunny and hot with high temperatures in the low-90s and gentle breezes from the S at 5-10 mph.

Mark Wiebe won the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn when, on the third playoff hole, he two-putted from 40 feet for a par and then watched James Mason three-putt from 25 feet for a bogey, missing a five-foot par effort that would have extended the overtime session. In regulation, Mason two-putted the par-5 18th hole from 25 feet for a birdie to tie Wiebe at 19-under. Both players played the 18th again and after Wiebe hit a wedge to within 12 feet and made the birdie putt. However, Mason answered with a seven-footer of his own and then play was then suspended by lightning in the area for 1:05 before the 18th could be played again. After Wiebe's third shot stopped nine feet from the hole, Mason pulled his third with a wedge into the back bunker but managed to get up an down for par, holing a clutch seven-foot par putt. Wiebe's birdie putt for the win slid just past the hole, forcing a third extra hole at the par-3 17th.

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• Final Leaderboard: 1) Mark Wiebe/197 (-19); 2) James Mason/197 (-19); T3) Chip Beck/198 (-18), Fred Funk/198 (-18); Nick Price/199 (-17), Loren Roberts/199 (-17)

Mark Wiebe won his third career victory on the Champions Tour and first since the 2008 Cap Cana Championship, ending a drought of 77 appearances since his last title.

Mark Wiebe also claimed his second tournament in North Carolina. Wiebe became the 12th player to win in his first start on the circuit when he claimed the 2007 SAS Championship in Cary, NC.

Mark Wiebe's previous-best finish at this event in three prior appearances was T4 in 2008.

Mark Wiebe earned $262,500 and his 263 Charles Schwab Cup points moved him up 21 spots into eighth place in the season-long race with 536 total points on the year. Tom Lehman continues to lead the 2011 Charles Schwab Cup race with 1,494 points and Nick Price's 77 points this week moved him into second place with 899 points on the year. At the end of the official season, the player earning the most Schwab Cup points will claim a $1 million payout.

Mark Wiebe's victory today also earned him a return trip for the next two years to the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.

• Today marked the second consecutive year that a player came from off the pace to win this event. Prior to Gary Hallberg's victory at Rock Barn last year, four straight tournaments in Hickory were won by the 36-hole leader/co-leader.

James Mason, an open qualifier this week, earned him a spot in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open in two weeks with his runner-up finish today. It was also his best performance in a Champions Tour event since winning 2002 NFL Golf Classic.

• The winning score of 19-under 197 was a Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn tournament record. The previous-best for 54 holes at this event was 18-under 198 by Jay Haas in 2009 and Gary Hallberg last year. This year was the first time since 2005 that the winner shot in the 60s all three days.

• Today's playoff was just the second overtime session in the nine-year history of the tournament. In 2006, Andy Bean defeated R.W. Eaks with a birdie on the first extra hole. It also was the longest playoff in a Champions Tour event since the 2008 AT&T Champions Classic, won by Denis Watson with birdie on the third extra hole at Valencia CC just north of Los Angeles.

• The Champions Tour's all-time record for most birdies made in a 54-hole tournament was shattered as 1,147 were made in regulation at this year's Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn. The old mark was set at the 2010 Allianz Championship when 1,012 were made on the Old Course at Broken Sound. Last year in Hickory, there were 923 birdies made on the Jones Course at Rock Barn. Before today, here are the top three events for most birdies over 54-holes:

Year Event Course Total Birdies
2010 Allianz Championship Old Course at Broken Sound 1,012
2008 3M Championship TPC Twin Cities 980
1999 Novell Utah Championship Park Meadows CC 978

• The cumulative scoring average of 69.008 for this year's event was easily an all-time record on the Champions Tour in relation to par since records were first kept in 1988. Last year at Rock Barn, the field scoring average was 70.842, the previous-best in Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn history. 72 of the 81 players in the field who started broke par this week. In each of the two previous years, 52 players broke par in the event.

• Both Kenny Perry and Fred Funk carded 10-under 62s today, the low rounds of the 2011 tournament. Perry's score was his best in a TOUR-sponsored event since he posted 61 in Round 1 of the 2009 Travelers Championship on the PGA TOUR. Funk's round was a career-low on the Champions Tour. His previous-best was 63 in Round 2 of the MasterCard Championship. It also extended his streak of sub-par rounds at this event to 15 consecutive rounds.

Mark Wiebe made the most birdies by a player in the field in regulation -- 21. That was two birdies short of Fred Couples' tournament record mark of 23 set last year at Rock Barn.

Loren Roberts (T5), Hal Sutton (T15) and Peter Senior (T31) all turned in bogey-free tournaments this week, marking the first time in Champions Tour history that as many as three players were bogey- free in the same tournament. Peter Senior was also bogey-free at the 2010 Regions Charity Classic.

• Defending champion Gary Hallberg finished T52 this year after closing with 5-under 67 today.

Wayne Levi disqualified himself from the tournament on Sunday morning after he discovered he had signed for a 3 at the 9th hole when he actually had made a 4 during Round 2. Levi was at 6-under (T38) through 36 holes before calling rules officials with the infraction.

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