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Wiebe beats Langer to win Senior British Open

July 29, 2013

SOUTHPORT, England (AP) — Bernhard Langer gave Mark Wiebe one too many chances at the Senior British Open.

Wiebe took advantage of Langer’s failure to close out the tournament by beating the German veteran on the fifth playoff hole on Monday at Royal Birkdale, clinching his first senior major title.

The American used a superb approach shot from the rough to set up a two-putt for par, while Langer failed to get up and down, seeing his par putt stay out.

“I’m speechless,” Wiebe said. “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 honored.

Langer held a two-shot lead going into the final hole of regulation on Sunday, only to settle for a double bogey when he struggled to get out of a bunker. The playoff was then halted after two holes because of darkness and resumed on Monday, with Langer immediately missing another chance to clinch the win when his 12-foot putt wouldn’t drop.

“I just was luckier today and last night than Bernie I guess,” Wiebe said. “I also feel like Bernie has won, what, a couple hundred tournaments. He’s won so many, I feel like this was my turn.”

Langer — who won the tournament in 2010 — held a three-shot lead going into the fourth round, and looked certain to earn a second Senior British Open title when he teed off at the 72nd.

But his approach shot landed in a greenside bunker, and he needed two strokes just to get out of the sand. Wiebe, meanwhile, shot a 4-under 66 to match the German veteran at 9-under 271.

“Obviously not what I wanted. But the major mistake was again yesterday, the 72nd hole,” Langer said. “In the playoff anybody can win. It comes down to one good shot or one bad shot. And that’s what happened. Mark is a very deserving champion.”

It was the first time in the 27-year history of the Senior British Open that the tournament finished on Monday.

Former U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin finished in a tie for third with David Frost of South Africa and Peter Senior of Australia, three shots back. It was the third year in a row that Pavin finished in a tie for third at the tournament.

Wiebe’s season has been plagued by a back and arm injury and he hasn’t finished in the top 10 on the U.S. Champions Tour all year. However, he said he could swing a club without pain again, which “helped me so much with my attitude.”

“Once I realized 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,” Wiebe said.

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