Wiebe's patient approach paying off big this season

text size
Increase Text Size
Decrease Text Size
Chris Condon/PGA TOUR
Mark Wiebe won twice on the PGA TOUR but is playing perhaps the best golf of his career on the Champions Tour.
June 29, 2011
Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

Golf is a game of limitations. It's not always how good the good shots turn out, it's how manageable the poor shots become.

COLUMN-Kupelian-183x90.jpg

Mark Wiebe knows what he can and cannot do on a golf course. In his approach to the game, patience is a virtue and mental errors are like those poor shots you don't get away with.

Wiebe is playing some of his best golf these days on the Champions Tour. In his last two starts, he has won the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn in a playoff and tied for third last week at Dick's Sporting Goods Open. He let the title slip away at Dick's, where rookie John Huston capitalized when Wiebe made some uncharacteristic mistakes.

Wiebe, 53, joined the PGA TOUR in 1983 and won twice. The Rock Barn title was his third on the Champions Tour since 2007 when he won the SAS Championship 10 days after celebrating his 50th birthday. He won for the second time in his 12th start, at Cap Cana, in 2008.

It took him three years to win again at Rock Barn but Wiebe's best tip in golf was to learn patience so the gap between victories was something he could deal with.

What irritated Wiebe about the finish at Dick's was the timing. Just when he thought his game was where he wanted it, it wasn't.

"I kind of thought of it more as I'm back on my game a little bit," Wiebe said. "Patience is a great deal in golf, although we hate hearing it, but I was very patient. Like I said, you just have to take what it gives you - the golf course that day, that particular day, and it didn't give me birdies.

"I just went into a little bit of a funk. I hadn't made a bogey all week and I don't think I made one at Rock Barn."

Then, out of nowhere, he made three straight bogeys and it cost him the chance at a second straight Champions Tour victory.

Looking back, Wiebe figures the victory at Rock Barn took a toll.

"I don't know, I never really got to rest and unwind from Rock Barn and I think I was kind of spent," he said. "I haven't made many mental errors with my game. Since I don't hit it as far as these guys, I have to really play flawless golf. I was doing a good job of it, really limiting the mental errors and I made three (bogeys) in a row where they were mental errors. That's usually when I'm tired, tired of thinking 172 yards into the wind left-to-right, air's heavy, and so on."

There will be no weariness for Wiebe this week at the Montreal Championship. He couldn't wait to get from Dick's to the Province of Quebec and the time he will spend this week with his son, Gunner.

For Mark Wiebe, par 5s are a strategic challenge. He doesn't reach many and deciding how to play the long par 5s, and then to execute the game plan, is always a key factor. Not so for Gunner.

"I'll hear it from my son because he hits the ball long and he has par 5s for dinner," Wiebe said. "He's always on me to swing harder off the tee so I maybe have a shot to get home, and if I don't, I can lay up."

Power Rankings
Mark Wiebe is third in this week's list for Montreal. Schwab Cup points leader Tom Lehman owns the top spot. Rankings

At En-Joie, Wiebe played the par 5s 1-over in Sunday's final round and certainly that's not what he had in mind, not with his short game and putting skills.

Regardless of the feedback he's likely to get from Gunner, 22, who just graduated from the University of San Diego, Wiebe couldn't wait for the reunion.

"It's going to be awesome," Mark said. "I'm totally stoked and excited to just spend some time with Gunner and talk golf."

Gunner has turned professional after a stellar amateur career. He was named the 2010 Amateur Star of the Year by the San Diego Hall of Champions and also the 2010 Colorado Golf Association Player of the Year. Gunner played in his first PGA TOUR event at the 2010 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, winning the only amateur spot by beating his coach at San Diego, Tim Mickelson, in a playoff.

"He's got everything in front of him," Mark Wiebe said. "He bombs it."

Spoken like a very proud Papa.

Champions Tour Insider

The $1.8 million USD Montreal Championship is presented by Desjardins at Club de Golf Fontainebleau in Blainville, Quebec. The winner's check is worth $270,000 and 270 Charles Schwab Cup points will go to the winner.

Canadians Rod Spittle, Jim Rutledge, Yvan Beauchemin and Daniel Talbot are in the field.

spittlemug.jpg

Spittle, a two-time Canadian Amateur Champion (1977, 1978) is enjoying a solid first full season on the Champions Tour. Spittle won the AT&T Championship in San Antonio last October and has already posted three top-10s this year, including a T2 at the Allianz Championship and a T3 at The Principal Charity Classic.

Rutledge Monday-qualified for the Dick's Sporting Goods Open last week and finished T10, which would have earned him a berth in the Montreal Championship, but he had already been awarded a sponsor exemption into the event.

Champions Tour Insider Vartan Kupelian is a freelance contributor for PGATOUR.COM. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR.

Print This Story