Alone in an Amsterdam hotel room Tuesday night after a hellish set of travel delays, Mark Wiebe couldn’t sleep. So he kept returning congratulatory e-mails and text messages he received after winning the Senior British Open on Monday in the fifth hole of a sudden-death playoff.
One message brought the 55-year-old to tears. It began:
Mark, this is Gary Player calling from Germany …
“Unbelievably flattering,” Wiebe said Thursday, still beaming as he recalled Player’s words. “I have a handwritten note from him framed in my office. But this one, it caught me off-guard. He told me he had watched the Open and thought I played great golf. I could not believe it.”
Wiebe hasn’t yet really found the time to let the whirlwind of the past week sink in.
He got into the playoff with Bern-hard Langer last Sunday only after Langer double-bogeyed the tournament’s 72nd hole and after two rain delays at Royal Birkdale.
Darkness forced the two players to return to a mostly empty course the next morning. Before he knew it, Wiebe had the Open trophy in his grasp.
Wiebe’s return flight to the United States was rescheduled to Tuesday. It was forced to turn back more than two hours into the flight because of plane issues. He finally checked in at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine late Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m on top of the world, but I feel like I’m in a boat and there are swells,” he said.
Wiebe said he’s doing his best to keep his emotions in check. Right alongside the high of winning his first major are the stats from his previous entries at the 3M Championship, where he’s never played a round better than 3 under par. The winning score at the 3M has been at least 15 under each of the past six years.
“This is great, I’m proud,” Wiebe said. “But once [Friday] starts, it’s over. I’m really hoping that the adrenaline can take me to the finish.”
Ryder Cup musings
The Ryder Cup competition at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska is still three years away, but that didn’t stop Colin Montgomerie, who was Europe’s captain in 2010 at Celtic Manor, from being asked his thoughts about the European side down the road.
The Scot, in the Twin Cities this week for the 3M Championship, said, “The makeup of the European team is very difficult to say. It changes considerably. You have a base — I suppose Rory [McIlroy] will get his game back and he’ll be that base again along with the [Luke] Donalds and [Ian] Poulters and [Graeme] McDowells, these sort of guys. But then, it’s always amazing the change that comes through and it’s always more difficult to make that team than you might imagine.”
One thing is for certain: Montgomerie will not be back as captain.
“We’ve gone away from [multiple-time] captains; it’s a one-hit thing, win or lose,” Montgomerie said.
Montgomerie sees Darren Clarke as the favorite for European captain at Hazeltine. And don’t count out Padraig Harrington or Thomas Bjorn either, he said.
• There were two holes-in-one during Thursday’s pro-am, both on the 163-yard No. 4. Bob Tway aced it with an 8-iron. Two groups later, John Huston did it with a 9-iron.
• The 3M Championship field includes more than a dozen first-time entrants. Montgomerie, a World Golf Hall of Famer, leads the list. Seven players have recorded their first Champions Tour victory at the 3M Championship. The last one was David Frost in 2010, when he shot a final-round 11-under 61 en route to a 25-under-par winning score of 191. Both are tournament records.