Leaderboard Surprises – Wiesberger, Palmer, Chappell
We all know that Rory McIlroy is leading the PGA going into the fourth round. The way he’s been playing this year, it’s no surprise. He has clearly found himself. However, once you start looking past the leader, there are some interesting names. For instance, I would characterize Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer as surprises, simply because they were early first round leaders, and are still in the hunt – didn’t expect that. Shooting a sub 70 round in a major, or anywhere as far as I’m concerned is impressive, but shooting two or three of them in the same week makes you look a lot more real.
Ricky Fowler sits two behind the leader at eleven under. That’s not all that surprising, either, because his game has experienced an upsurge in the past year, and he’s in contention a great deal of the time. Still searching for his first major, this looks like a pretty good potential week for Fowler, although it’s hard to catch Rory when he’s playing like this. Phil Mickelson is showing signs of life – that’s normal, and Jason Day has lowered his score to ten under as well. These are, without a doubt, strong contenders.
However, there’s a serious anomaly in second place. I have never heard of him, and won’t apologize for it. Does anyone out in the gallery know who Bernd Wiesberger is?
Being married to an Austrian who will be rooting for her countryman tomorrow, it’s necessary that I get the German pronunciation thing right from the beginning – the “ie” makes it “Vees.” The second half of the name is not “Burger.” It’s the same sound as “ere” or “where.” He’s Austrian, not German. That means, unless he lives in the eastern portion of the country, where Vienna sits, he doesn’t see or play too much level ground. This is a country that isn’t known for its golfers – it has more of an ongoing interest in skiing, Mozart, skiing, fabulous desserts, particularly those involving chocolate, and…skiing.
Brend Wiesberger hasn’t won much of anything, and has managed about 48,000 dollars worth of winnings this year, putting him at about number 281 on the international list. So what makes a guy with that kind of profile go out and shoot 68, 68, and 65, three days in a row, on a Jack Nicklaus course, and stay within one shot of the most talented golfer on the talent, when his golf muse shows up? (Tiger is exempt from that judgment until further notice)
It’s a good thing to have the kind of week Wiesberger’s having in this part of the calendar. Win or not, he stands to make a huge chunk of change out of the ten million dollar purse, just by playing a decent fourth round. Just imagine the unthinkable, though. A person with no trail of golf glory waltzes in (as only an Austrian can), and takes the PGA trophy away to his chalet in Oberwart, which must contain a certain number of hobbits and elves among its population.
The question hovers over the conversation. Why has Bernd Wiesberger never shown himself before in such a way? He’s twenty-eight years of age, and we never saw him coming. Maybe he was off playing Mozart, eating dessert, or skiing. Regardless, it’s a fair bet that a few more Austrian televisions than usual will be trained on Kentucky this Sunday to see if Bernd Wiesberger can find a place of new prominence for his sport in one of the most beautiful countries of the world. Or, will Rory just keep on being Rory?