Round 4 notebook: Senior Open Championship

July 29, 2013
By Phil Stambaugh, Champions Tour staff

In the first Monday finish in the history of the Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex, Mark Wiebe won an improbable playoff with Bernhard Langer at Royal Birkdale for the first major title of his career. Wiebe’s two-putt par from the front of the 18th green, the fifth playoff hole, was good enough to win after Langer missed his par effort from 12 feet after chipping from just short of the green. Wiebe appeared as if he would be the runner-up but Langer’s double-bogey on the final hole of regulation on Sunday allowed him to get into the overtime session. In near darkness on Sunday night, both players halved two extra holes with pars and resumed the playoff on Monday morning. After making pars on the third extra hole, both Langer and Wiebe failed to get up and down from the greenside bunker and halved the fourth extra hole with a bogey.  

Mark Wiebe (70-65-70-66—271/-9)
• Mark Wiebe wins his fourth overall title on the Champions Tour and first since the 2011 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn. His win today ends a drought of 49 events since his last triumph.

• He wins the Senior Open Championship in his sixth appearance and claims his first major championship in 31 career appearances in majors on the Champions Tour. He finished T6 at Turnberry last year. 

• Wiebe made two appearances in the Open Championship in his career, missing the cut both times, but none at Royal Birkdale before this week.

• Prior to Monday, Wiebe’s highest finish in a senior major championship was T3 at the 2009 Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship in Oregon.

• Prior to this week, Wiebe had not registered a top-10 finish this season, suffering through elbow and back injuries for most of the year. His previous-best effort in 14 starts in 2013 was a T14 at the ACE Group Classic.

• Wiebe earns 632 Charles Schwab Cup points and a check for $316,500.

• Wiebe earns a five-year exemption into the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.

• Wiebe earns a trip to the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club next July.

Final-Round Statistics at the Senior Open Championship

• This year’s playoff was also the 10th in the 27-year history of the Senior Open Championship and third on the Champions Tour this year. It was the first overtime session at the Senior Open since 2009 at Sunningdale and the sixth since the championship became official in 2003. The five-hole playoff between Bernhard Langer and Mark Wiebe was also the longest in Senior Open annals.

• Mark Wiebe’s four-stroke comeback on Sunday was the biggest come-from-behind victory in Senior Open history surpassing Tom Watson’s three-stroke comeback in 2003 at Turnberry.

• Scotland’s Sandy Lyle’s seventh-place finish this week was his best performance on the Champions Tour since a T4 late last May at the 2012 Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich. Lyle’s seventh-place effort this week was his best ever in the Senior Open Championship. He had made the cut only once in five previous appearances, finishing T13 at Sunningdale in 2009. 

• After going the first three days without a player having a bogey-free round, two professionals had bogey-free rounds on Sunday. Corey Pavin’s 5-under 65 equalled the low round of the championship and moved him up into a T3, the same spot he finished in two weeks ago at the U.S. Senior Open. It was Pavin’s third top-three finish in four years in the Senior Open Championship – T3/2011, 2nd/2010. Tom Pernice, Jr.’s final-round 66 included four birdies and no bogeys. Pernice’s score Sunday moved him up into a T8 in the Senior Open Championship, his first top-10 finish in a senior major in his first-ever appearance in this championship.

• Peter Senior of Australia carded a final-round 66 at Royal Birkdale to move up into a T3 finish at this year’s Senior Open Championship. He’s now been among the top five in at least one senior major championship in each of the four years he’s played the Champions Tour and six times overall in 20 total appearances in senior majors. Senior lost in a playoff to Tom Lehman at the 2011 Regions Tradition and also finished third at the 2011 Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship and T3 at the 2010 Senior Open Championship at Carnoustie.

• The suspension of play at Royal Birkdale on Sunday because of a dangerous weather situation marked the seventh time this year for a climate-related delay on the Champions Tour and fourth time in the last five events  There were seven weather delays in all of the 2012 season. This was the first Monday finish ever in a Senior Open Championship and the first on the Champions Tour since the 2005 Bayer Advantage Classic near Kansas City.

• Defending champion Fred Couples finished T21 this year at the Senior Open Championship. Here’s how the other four former Senior Open Championship winners who made the cut stand finished at Royal Birkdale this year: Bernhard Langer/2010-P2, Russ Cochran/2011-T14, Tom Watson/2003, 2005, 2007-T36, Bruce Vaughan/2008-T55. 

• World Golf Hall of Fame member Colin Montgomerie, a winner of 31 events on the European Tour, finished T21 in his first Senior Open Championship.

• After only 10 players broke par-70 in the opening round at Royal Birkdale and there were 17 rounds in the 60s on Friday, 13 sub-70 scores on Saturday and 14 players had rounds in the 60s on Sunday. The field scoring average on Sunday was 72.163 (+2.163) vs Saturday’s scoring average of 71.838 (+1.838). Before the cut, Friday’s scoring average was 74.340 (+4.340) and 74.453 (+4.453) in Round 1 on Thursday. 

• Royal Birkdale’s par-4 sixth hole played as the hardest for the event (4.444) and yielded just 18 birdies during the week. The par-5 15th hole has played as the easiest (4.856), giving up two eagles and 128 birdies.

• Next year’s Senior Open Championship will be at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in South Wales from July 24-27.