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November 10, 2010

ON COURSE - Drew Weaver's performances on the eGolf Tour have him looking forward to bigger and better things

By: Jimmy Robertson

Drew Weaver

When Drew Weaver graduated from Virginia Tech after a decorated golf career, he fully expected to head to the Nationwide Tour, or if a few breaks went his way, the PGA Tour.

He never expected to spend his summer on a tour called the eGolf Professional Tour.

But that’s where Weaver humbly began his professional career, playing in events held on courses within a four- or five-hour drive of the tour’s base city of Charlotte. This tour of roughly 200 players serves as a “feeder” tour of sorts, allowing players to work on their games in a competitive environment in hopes of eventually moving on to the Nationwide Tour or PGA Tour.

“It was good,” Weaver said of his experience. “It surpassed my expectations. I tried to make the best of it and I feel like I did that.

“Wherever you go, you’ve got to play good golf. I wasn’t ready to play the Nationwide Tour. But I feel good about the strides I’ve made. I had a great second half.”

Weaver, who recorded seven top-10 finishes in the final eight events of the eGolf Tour, won his first event as a professional. In late September, he won the Caddy For A Cure Classic held at Cabarrus Country Club in Concord, N.C., shooting 17-under-par and edging out two others in a playoff. For his efforts, he pocketed $17,000, which is a far cry from the dollar amounts on the Nationwide and PGA Tours.

But Weaver, who hadn’t won since his stunning victory in the 2007 British Amateur, took much more out of that win than a nice paycheck. After finishing second on two occasions on the eGolf Tour this summer – including once when he shot a 65 in the final round and the winner shot a 62 to edge Weaver by a stroke – he finally had snagged that elusive victory.

“It was nice to finally get it done,” he said. “Golf is a hard sport because you lose more than you win. Just look at Tiger [Woods]. You’ve got to build on each week, but when it all boils down, the win is what you’re shooting for.

“I’ve been in contention three or four or five times, but I just got beat. There wasn’t anything I did wrong. This time, I made some putts when I needed to, and to win was very gratifying.”

Weaver finished fifth on eGolf’s money list, bringing home more than $71,000. The leader, Jason Kokrak, won two events and led the way with more than $115,000 in earnings.

He also received a sponsor’s exemption to play in the PGA’s Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., not far from his home in High Point, N.C. In front of family and friends, he shot four rounds of 70 or better and made the cut, finishing tied for 41st at 11-under-par.

“Consistency in putting is something I’ve struggled with,” Weaver said. “You’ve got to minimize damage. You’re not going to make every putt.”

These days, Weaver lives in Sea Island, Ga., and latched on with Crown Sports Management, the management group that former Tech standouts and current PGA players Brendon de Jonge and Johnson Wagner use. Weaver made a decision earlier this year to use Mark Love, the brother of Davis Love III, as his swing coach, moving on from Jim Brotherton, a former Tech golfer who serves as the golf director at High Point Country Club.

Drew Weaver

“Mark is in Sea Island and my trainer, Randy Myers, and my short game coach, Mike Shannon, are there, too,” Weaver said. “So it seemed the right thing to do to move on, and Mark has been great. Things have really worked out well.”

Those changes and the experience gleaned from the eGolf Tour have paid dividends for Weaver. He recently won a first-stage event at the PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament – better known as “q-school” – shooting 12-under-par at Pinewild Country Club outside Pinehurst, N.C., to win by a stroke. He advanced to the second stage of the three-stage qualifying school, and if he makes it to the final stage, he will at the least be conditionally exempt on the Nationwide Tour (the top 25 finishers of the final stage earn their PGA cards, while the next 50, plus ties, earn Nationwide Tour cards).

But he won’t forget where he’s been.

“You know, you get really spoiled when you’re playing in college,” Weaver said. “You play a lot of great courses, stay at a lot of great places, and your teammates and coaches are always around.

“But professionally, you’re out on your own. You’ve got to make decisions on your own. I wasn’t in the right mindset when I left Tech. I was a little naïve and thought I’d be successful right off the bat. In a way, it [not qualifying for the Nationwide or PGA Tours] was a blessing in disguise. It’s hard to put into words how I’ve grown, but I really feel ready to take my game to the next level.”

Weaver also reported that his mom, Cathy, is doing well after being diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago and undergoing all the treatments. He also said that he missed Blacksburg and Tech.

“There are certain things that I don’t miss, like the studying and the tests,” he laughed. “But I do miss my teammates and my friends. I miss West End and football games. I look forward to coming back up there and visiting.”