McIlroy. Mickelson. Fowler. Day. Stenson. Wiesberger.
The list of players in contention heading into the final round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla includes some of golf’s most familiar names. It also includes a few who are anything but household names, and 28-year-old Bernd Wiesberger tops the list.
Wiesberger, plays on the European Tour and has never placed better than 63rd at a major, is entering the final round in sole possession of second place, just one stroke behind McIlroy. The leaders will tee off at 2:55 p.m.
Here’s what you need to know about Wiesberger:
1. He’s Already One of the Most Successful Golfers From Austria
As the New York Times’ Bill Fields notes, Austria, home to some of the world’s best downhill skiers, is hardly known for producing elite golfers.
Markus Brier, now 46, became the first Austrian to win a European Tour event when he claimed the 2006 BA-CA Golf Open in his home country and won the Volvo China Open the next year.
Brier’s countryman Bernd Wiesberger won two European Tour titles in 2012. Now, through three rounds of the P.G.A. Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, Wiesberger, 28, has positioned himself for much bigger spoils.
2.He Lost His Tour Card After His First Year on the European Tour
Wiesberger turned pro in 2006 and made it through qualifying school to get his European Tour card in 2009, but he made only $127,000 in 22 events and failed to retain his tour card the following year.
After spending a year back on the Challenge Tour, he regained his tour card in 2011 and made almost $630,000 in 33 tournaments — not chump change, by any stretch of the imagination, but nothing compared to the $1.8 million he’ll take home for one weekend’s work if he wins the title Sunday.
3. He Had the Best Year of His Career in 2012
Wiesberger’s two European Tour victories came during a three-month span in 2012, which was by far his best year as a pro.
He won his first title at the Ballantine’s Championship, then followed that up two weeks later with a win at the Lyoness Open in Austria that included a final-round 65.
The two victories helped set in motion a stretch of 26 tournaments during which Wiesberger has missed only two cuts.
4. He’s From a Family of Golfers
Wiesberger learned to play from his father, Klaus, who runs a sporting goods store along with Wiesberger’s mother, Claudia. According to Wiesberger’s European Tour bio, his brother, Nikki, occasionally serves as his caddie.
Wiesberger is an avid skier, and a skiing accident nearly derailed his career when he broke his collarbone in a 2003 accident.
Despite the accident, his amateur carer got off to a good start when he won the Austrian amateur stroke play championship in 2004, 2005 and 2006, paving the way for his professional career.
5. He Has a Girlfriend Named Claudia Steinmann
There’s not a whole lot of information out there about her, but PlayerWives.com reports that Wiesberger has a girlfriend named Claudia Steinmann.
The site reports:
Bernd Wiesberger’s girlfriend Claudia has been in the picture for a few years now. Bernd Wiesberger previously dated a lived with a woman named Tina, though he previously acknowledged living with Tina since 2005 shortly after graduating from BHAK commercial college at age 19.
In recent months and years as Wiesberger’s stock has risen through golfs ranks, Claudia has been a popular fixture on his arm at various events and homecoming celebrations.