Family affair at Dayton Valley
DAYTON – The annual Dayton Valley PGA Qualifier at Dayton Valley Golf Club has turned into a family affair for the Wiebes.
Mark Wiebe won five events as a professional, three on the Champions Tour and two on the PGA Tour. His son, 23-year-old Gunner, is competing this week at Dayton, and mom Cathy is toting her son’s bags with dad looking on.
Gunner Wiebe, who played college golf at the University of San Diego, is sitting in a fourth-place tie at 5-under-par 139 following a second-round 69. He trails second-round leader Oliver Fisher by three shots entering today’s third round.
The top 19 and ties move on to the second stage in November.
Wiebe credits part of his early success to a visit to Dayton a couple of weeks ago. He played a morning round one day and an afternoon round the next to get a complete look at the course in different conditions.
“It certainly didn’t hurt,” the younger Wiebe said. “I already knew my strategy coming in; how far I needed to hit the ball off the tee. I only played nine holes on Sunday and Monday. I just wanted to conserve my strength.”
Wiebe recorded an eagle, two birdies and a bogey over the par-72 7,218-yard layout. The weather was a more favorable on Wednesday than it was on Tuesday.
After starting with a par on No. 10, Wiebe recorded a two-putt birdie on the par-5 11th. Following a par on No. 12, he chipped in for birdie on No. 13 to go 2-under-par. Wiebe parred 14 through 18.
He made it seven straight pars when he parred Nos. 1 and 2. On the par-5 third hole, Wiebe had 184 to the pin and a little wind with him. He knocked it 2 inches from the hole and tapped in for an eagle to go 4-under. After a par at No. 5, he registered his only bogey on No. 6, a par-3. He finished the round with three straight pars.
He enters the final 36 holes with a good chance to move on, but he won’t be doing any scoreboard watching.
“The less I think about it the better I’ll be,” the younger Wiebe said. “I’m working on that (the mental part) with a Dr. Graham, and she’s doing a good job. I’ve already got questions to ask her about today.”
And, to help Gunner with any stress is good ole Mom.
“She’s doing great,” Wiebe said. “She’s caddied for me before at the Colorado Open where I finished second. She is always positive. She never says anything negative.
“I have a high level of comfort when she’s out there. We’re a tight family. My two sisters, myself, my dad and mom; we like spending time together.”
The younger Wiebe wasn’t a golf-only sort of kid growing up, according to his dad.
“There were so many sports,” said Mark Wiebe, watching his son sign his scorecard after a second-round 69. “There was soccer, basketball, baseball, golf and football. He was like me in that respect.
“He was playing junior golf when he was 9 or 10. When he was young I would take him into the locker room with me. He went everywhere with me. The girls (two daughters) couldn’t go because it was a boys locker room.”
Gunner remembers a rain delay at the TPC at Sawgrass where everybody was in the locker room, and he started making putts into a makeshift hole with his dad and others looking on.
“My dad said, ‘I told you he was good’,” the younger Wiebe recalled.
Gunner pointed out that he actually tried lacrosse and hockey, too.
By the time Gunner had reached high school, he had whittled his sports down to basketball and golf.
“I didn’t think I was good enough (to move) in basketball, maybe a small Division III school,” Wiebe said. “It was pretty late in my junior year I figured I was good enough. My mom and dad always told me I was, but until you see results you think they are saying it because they’re your mom and dad.”
There are obviously certain advantages to being the son of a professional golfer, and Gunner doesn’t deny that. He got to rub shoulders with guys like Justin Leonard, Jeff Sluman and Jay Delsing, who is one of Mark Wiebe’s best friends on tour. Not many kids get to talk about that.
It does, however, have its pitfalls. It’s readily expected that you will be as good as your father; to dominate at all levels.
“When I was younger I definitely felt the pressure,” the younger Wiebe said. “I was Mark’s son or Wiebe’s kid. After I got through college I started to make my own path.”