Golfer Wiesberger in spotlight after Korea victory

30 April 2012 08:46

Going into the Ballantine's Championship at Blackstone Golf Club last week no one was talking about Bernd Wiesberger.

The Austrian 26-year-old was ranked 170 in the world and his best results in six years as a pro had been two wins on the Challenge Tour in 2010 and a couple of runner-up spots on the main European Tour.

But the manner of his victory in the $2.9 million event at Icheon, near Seoul, on Sunday has propelled this calm young man from Oberwald into the top 100 in the world and into the golfing spotlight.

On a course which Tour greats such as Adam Scott, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Open champion Darren Clarke failed to tame, he played 59 consecutive holes from the 13th on Thursday without dropping a shot.

During that run he set a course record of seven-under par 65 on Friday to take the tournament by the scruff of the neck. What's more he went out in the final group on Saturday having never before led a European Tour event and repeated the feat.

His final round 68 gave him a commanding five-stroke victory margin and the biggest payday of his life, $470,000.

Last year Lee Westwood won the Ballantine's on 11 under par at the same course. Wiesberger bettered the world number three's score by seven strokes.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that he comes from an Alpine country where winter sports and football are king. Austria has only ever produced two European Tour winners in the past, Markus Brier and Martin Wiegele.

So what prompted this polite young man to take up golf in the land of skis and bobsleds?

"My father ran a sports shop," he told AFP. "And I could pretty much choose to do any sport I wanted.

"Then when I was about six or seven a golf club opened in the town and my father encouraged me to go down and try it and I liked it. He now runs the pro shop at the course.

"But it wasn't until I was about 15 that I decided to concentrate on golf rather than football or skiing. I'm glad now I did."

Wiesberger's father has been a huge influence and Wiesberger mentions him often. What's more, following some of his father's advice this week help steer him to his maiden success.

"I sometimes get fiery on the course when things go wrong. But my dad told me to stay calm and just take it in the chin. It is much easier, though, to stay calm when you are playing well.

"Like this week. It was a lot of fun out there. I think it's what you call a great day at the office."