After three rounds, 54 holes and two 19-under-par scores, it took three playoff holes to decide this year’s Greater Hickory Classic champion.
Mark Wiebe, a resident of Denver, Colo., defeated James Mason in the third playoff hole Sunday to claim the 2011 Greater Hickory Classic championship and the $262,500 winner’s prize.
The victory by Wiebe breaks a 77-tournament losing streak.
“I didn’t know it had been 77 tournaments since I’ve won,” Wiebe said. “That was kind of a bummer to know. I’m tickled to have busted that drought.”
Mason, who won a qualifying tournament Monday by shooting a 10-under-par 62 to make this year’s GHC field, said a victory could have been a special moment for him.
“The win would have meant everything,” Mason said. “That would have been the culmination of my career. That would have probably given me another year and a half out here. I still get a nice check, but the win would have been just a total redoing of my career.”
Two of the best rounds of the final day came from golfers Fred Funk and Kenny Perry. Both men had 10-under-par final rounds.
Funk finished in a tie for third-place and Perry finished tied for eighth.
“I think I’m going to come up a little short,” said Funk, as he talked to the media with the lead in the clubhouse. “It was nice to finish that good and really come back from 8-under in the back in the pack.”
Bob Tway and Tommy Armour III, who began the day in first and second, finished in a tie for eighth with Perry and four others.
After the final round had concluded, two names — Wiebe and Mason — were tied atop the leaderboard at 19-under-par. Both players were headed for a dramatic playoff.
During the first two playoff holes, both at No. 18, Mason and Wiebe mirrored one another.
Both players managed to birdie the first playoff hole, but a weather delay halted action on a second playoff hole.
The struggle between the two continued after play resumed, as both players tied on No. 18 again with two pars.
Play headed to the par-3 17th, which includes a straight shot over water.
After the two teed off, it appeared as if Mason was in prime position to win. His ball sat just feet from the hole, while Wiebe’s ball was on the far side of the green.
Both players missed their first putts and it appeared that play was headed to a fourth hole.
Wiebe made his second putt to claim par, placing all the pressure on Mason.
The second putt by Mason touched the left edge of the cup, but failed to go in, sealing Wiebe’s victory.
Wiebe complimented the GHC staff and said he is glad that he won at a tournament that he and many of the players really enjoy.
“Winning is great,” Wiebe said. “Winning a tournament that you really like is greater, and I really like this tournament. What they do for us here is fantastic.”