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Weaver's British Amateur win lands him in Open Championship

    Drew Weaver

Birdies in Carnoustie

Drew Weaver, a rising junior from High Point, N.C., majoring in marketing management in the Pamplin College of Business, lived out a dream July 19 when he birdied his first two holes in the British Open.

Weaver compiled a 36-hole total of six-over-par 148. He missed the cut, at plus-five, by two strokes.

Weaver, a member of Virginia Tech's golf team, was one of six amateurs — and the only American amateur — in the field of 156 at Carnoustie, Scotland. Weaver won exemption into the Open with his unlikely victory in the 2007 British Amateur Championship in June 2007.

Getting to the Open

    Drew Weaver, putting

Weaver stunned the golf world with his victory in the British Amateur — the first by an American in the event since Jay Sigel won the competition in 1979. Weaver became the first American to advance to the finals since Jim Holtgrieve in 1983.

Weaver played a week's worth of outstanding golf, one which ended with Weaver knocking off Tim Stewart 2 & 1 in the match play championship final of the British Amateur at Royal Lytham and St. Annes in Lancashire, England.

Along with his parents, Weaver traveled to England in June expecting to "play a little golf" before joining his parents to see some of the sights. The trip to Britain was planned almost more as a dream vacation.

As fate would have it, the trip turned out to be more of an incredible dream — one that came true — than an actual vacation.

Weaver and his family forsook seeing Britain's finest tourist attractions. But gazing at that championship trophy made it more than worth it.

"It hasn't sunk in, no, not at all," Weaver said during an interview shortly after winning the championship. "There were quite a few people waiting to meet us at the airport when we got back, and we had a big party at our house. It's been overwhelming. It hasn't sunk in yet. I don't want to wake up from this dream."

Weaver doesn't rank as your resident weekend hack, but his victory certainly came as a surprise. The R&A (derived from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews) ranks amateur golfers based on complicated criteria that obviously take into account how a player performs at amateur tournaments. Weaver was ranked 181st in the world.

Seasons change

Weaver had not won a tournament this year, though he finished second once. Of late, he finished 12th at the ACC Championships and 23rd at the NCAA East Regional. He did not qualify for the NCAA Championships.

Also, Weaver had zero experience playing links-style courses, with their sand dunes, water hazards, thick uneven rough, and deep bunkers. He had never been to Europe, and he certainly hadn't played in the windy conditions common to England.

Furthermore, Weaver's hopes were dampened somewhat after his first practice round at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.

"I had been hitting it pretty good and I knew my game was in good shape," Weaver said. "The weekend before I left, I played a couple of practice rounds at my home course and shot 64 both days and tied the course record. I was making putts and I went in [to the British Amateur] with a lot of confidence.

"But my first practice round over there, the wind was blowing about 40 miles per hour and I shot an 82. I thought to myself, 'What have I gotten myself into here?' They give you a caddy to help you learn the course and I told my caddy that the cut would be 15-over if this wind kept up. But it [the wind] calmed down and I got a couple of extra practice rounds in. After that, I felt real comfortable with links golf."

Weaver was one of 288 players in the field. The tournament consists of two rounds of stroke play, with the top 64 advancing to match play. Weaver, with his dad as his caddy during the tournament, made it out of stroke play — one of just two Americans to do so.

The run continued. He beat Luis Garcia of Spain 4 & 3 in the first round of match play to advance to the round of 32. Then he disposed of Simon Ward of Ireland and Kevin McAlpine of Scotland 2 & 1 on the same day to advance to the quarterfinals. The next day, he won two more matches, beating Great Britain's Chris Wood and Jason Shufflebotham of Wales both by scores of 2 & 1.

In the 36-hole championship final, Weaver dominated until the end. He led by six with six holes to play, but a poor chip on No. 13 enabled Stewart to win the hole, and that got Stewart back in the match. He won the next four holes, heading to No. 17.

On No. 17, Weaver — a prodigious hitter off the tee — blasted a great drive down the middle, but he missed the green on his second shot, and Stewart hit his second to within 20 feet of the hole. Faced with a tough chip, Weaver managed to get his ball within 7 feet of the cup.

Stewart was first to putt and just missed a 20-footer that would have sent the match to the 18th hole. Weaver, trying every technique imaginable to remain calm, only needed to make his 7-footer to win the championship, and his putt caught the right-center of the cup and dropped.

"I couldn't believe it was over," Weaver said. "I was so spent. I had played almost 36 holes of golf a day for three straight days and it was finally over and I had won.

"I think it was a big surprise to a lot of people. You don't see a lot of Americans winning over there because the conditions are so different. But I was so driven and so focused. I just blocked out everything on the outside. The golf I played was some of the best I've ever played. Everything just clicked."

Afterward, Weaver accepted the trophy and then met with the media. He dedicated his win to the 32 who died and the many others who were injured during the tragic events on the Tech campus on April 16. All through the week, his Virginia Tech golf bag served as a reminder of what and whom he represented in that tournament.

"Person of the Week"

Weaver was ABC World News Tonight's "Person of the Week" on July 20.

In the news

    Drew Weaver

For more news items that feature Weaver, visit the Drew Weaver at the British Open page on hokiesports.com.

Quick facts

  • With his British Amateur victory, Weaver got an invitation to the 2008 Masters at Augusta National in Georgia.
  • He received a four-year exemption to the U.S. Amateur — arguably the most prestigious amateur tournament in the nation.
  • He'll play in Georgia the week before the Masters next April against the U.S. Amateur champion.

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