Weaver Posts Bogey-Free 62 to Grab First-Round Lead at eGolf Tour’s Southern Open
By Stewart Moore
Kannapolis, NC – eGolf Tour leading money winner Drew Weaver of High Point, NC spent the first round of the eGolf Tour’s eighth annual Southern Open in what he referred to as one of the “best pairings I’ve ever seen.” Playing alongside Tommy Gibson of Vero Beach, FL (63) and Mikel Martinson of Lubbock, TX (64), Weaver paced the group’s birdie barrage with nine of his own en route to a first-round 62 and the tournament’s day one lead.
The Southern Open is the 15th event of the 2012 eGolf Tour season, and is being contested this week at both The Club at Irish Creek in Kannapolis, NC and the Country Club of Salisbury in Salisbury, NC.
Weaver’s opening round began on the back nine of the Donald Ross-designed Country Club of Salisbury course – site of one the tour’s best finishes in its 11-year history.
At the 2010 Bolle Classic, Weaver dueled current PGA TOUR member Tommy Biershenk down the stretch at the scenic club, posting birdies on each of his final five holes to force Biershenk to birdie the 72nd hole in order to win by one. That finish, Weaver’s “hello world” moment to the professional ranks, was not too far removed from his day one performance at the Southern Open, or his mind.
“It’s funny, I actually brought that up to the guys early on the back nine, on maybe No. 13 or 14,” said Weaver, 25. “That was a good memory – a real fun day, for sure.”
Looking to recapture some of the back nine glory from that late Saturday afternoon in June of 2010, Weaver came pretty close, posting five consecutive birdies on Nos. 12 through 15 to quickly reach 5-under par through seven holes of his opening round. A birdie at the downhill par-4 18th gave the former Virginia Tech star an outward nine of 6-under 30 and a four-shot lead on his soon-to-be-red-hot playing partners, who each turned at 34.
On the closing nine, Weaver took a backseat to Gibson and Martinson, albeit with a 3-under 32. While Gibson put on a six-birdie display to polish off his 8-under 63 with a 29, Martinson posted the group’s only eagle with a three at the par-5 third en route to his closing 5-under 30 and a first-round 64.
All told, the threesome combined for 24 birdies and one eagle on Wednesday, posting a best ball score of 16-under 55 along the way.
“That was a fun day, a lot of birdies and just some really good golf,” said Weaver. “On 15 we looked at each other and just thought ‘okay,’ let’s keep this going.”
The day one 62 is simply viewed as more of the same for Weaver, who has been without doubt the hottest developmental tour player in the country over the past 10 weeks. During that stretch, the 2007 British Amateur champion has posted a win and four runner-up finishes on the eGolf Tour to vault into the No. 1 spot on the tour’s money list. Beginning with a T2 at the Columbia Open in May, Weaver notched his second career win at the Willow Creek Open two weeks later, then posted a playoff loss at the HGM Hotels Classic at Rock Barn, a runner-up at the Bolle Classic, and a runner-up at the Spring Creek Classic – all in the span of six starts.
During this stretch, the current Sea Island (GA) resident has posted just four out of 23 rounds in the 70s (70, 70, 71, 72) while tallying a Tiger Woods-like 90-under par cumulative total.
Weaver’s run, however, has not been all roses. At the Web.com Tour’s United Leasing Championship two weeks ago in Indiana, he parlayed a successful Monday qualifier into his first start of the year on the PGA TOUR’s developmental circuit, but packed his bags early after a surprising 77-79 effort left him well short of the cut.
“You know, it’s tough, it’s just a long week. I flew out there on Saturday before the Monday qualifier, and by the time the event came along, I had run out of gas,” he said. “That’s not an excuse, that’s just what happens sometimes. When you don’t have any status, sometimes your schedule is not optimal.”
Hungry for win No. 2 on the year, a refreshed and recharged Weaver entered the Southern Open week looking to get back to the solid play he had displayed throughout much of the year. The missed cut in Indiana, as it turned out, was simply more fuel for the proverbial fire.
“It was good to have last week off, but I’m very motivated by that missed cut in Indiana,” Weaver said. “It felt good to get started back today and kind of pick up where I knew I had left off.”
Gibson, at age 23, has had one of the more consistent seasons of his eGolf Tour career. The former junior college standout entered the Southern Open week with 9 of 11 cuts made on the year, and five top-25 finishes to his name – tying his career-best mark set in 2011.
On Wednesday, Gibson posted one of two bogeys in the group when he carded a five at the par-4 11th (his second hole), but played flawless golf from there on out.
Birdies on 13, 16 and 17 gave him a 2-under 34 at the turn, and soon gave way to a torrid finishing nine holes.
A birdie at the par-4 first took Gibson to 3-under on his day, but it was a trifecta of birdies on Nos. 4, 5 and 6 that took him into the serious red at 6-under par overall. A birdie at the short par-4 eighth took Gibson to 7-under par, while a closing birdie at No. 9 left him with an 8-under 63 start to his week – good for solo-second place, just one shot behind Weaver.
The 63 marked the lowest score of Gibson’s five-year eGolf Tour career, and tied his lowest score to par (8-under 64, Rd. 2, 2011 Grand Harbor Open). Gibson entered the week in Kannapolis with five made cuts in a row – all top-30 finishes. The current Quail Hollow Club shop assistant has likely taken a few cues from the club’s vaunted list of members, which includes PGA TOUR winners Webb Simpson and Johnson Wagner.
The 7-under 64 by Martinson left him in a three-way tie for third place through 18 holes, as newcomer Garland Green of Tazewell, VA and Kyle Gallo of Berlin, CT matched his opening round effort.
Martinson, like Gibson, now resides in Charlotte, having moved from his native Texas to set up shop in the Queen City for the duration of the eGolf Tour season. His Wednesday 64 was likely a welcome reprieve from what has otherwise been a disappointing sophomore campaign for the former Texas State Amateur champion.
After posting seven top-25 finishes in 2011 (his first year on the eGolf Tour), Martinson has started slowly in 2012, with just six made cuts in his first 14 starts – including missed cuts in four of his last five starts.
Green, a former Virginia Tech golfer and two-year teammate of Weaver’s, made a nice eGolf Tour debut in the opening round at Salisbury with seven birdies against zero bogeys for his 64.
Green, who teamed with Weaver during his freshman/sophomore years as a Hokie golfer, won prestigious amateur titles earlier this year at the New Year’s Invitational in St. Petersburg, FL and just five weeks ago at the Kenridge Invitational in Charlottesville, VA. He turned professional shortly thereafter, and is still awaiting the first bogey of his eGolf Tour career.
For Gallo, Wednesday’s 64 screamed of simplicity, with eight birdies and a lone bogey at the par-4 fourth for a 7-under par effort that marked a career-best on the eGolf Tour.
The New Englander is making his first tour start since missing the cut at the Columbia Open in May. As many pros from the land of the Red Sox do in the summer, Gallo has spent the past two months competing in the various state opens offered throughout the region.
The 37-year-old has made six prior starts on the 2012 eGolf Tour, with a T18 at the Pine Needles Classic in March serving as his best finish.
Second-round play in the Southern Open will begin at 8:00 AM on Thursday morning at both Irish Creek and Salisbury. The tournament is open to the public and free of charge.