Weekley working to make dream a reality
WINTER GARDEN, Fla. -- During each day at PGA Tour Qualifying School, GolfDigest.com's Brian Wacker will chronicle the efforts of Bill Haas, Notah Begay III and Boo Weekley as they compete in golf's most grueling week.
"Yeah, I was in the show. I was in the show for 21 days once -- the 21 greatest days of my life. You know, you never handle your luggage in the show, somebody else carries your bags. It was great. You hit white balls for batting practice, the ballparks are like cathedrals, the hotels all have room service, and the women all have long legs and brains." -- Crash Davis, Bull Durham
Boo Weekley knows that feeling -- Pro V1s on the driving range, courtesy cars, millions of dollars in prize money each week. He was in the show once before, making it to the PGA Tour in 2001 the same way he hopes to this week, via the PGA Tour's Qualifying tournament.
Halfway to that dream, Weekley shot an even-par 72 Friday at Orange County National's Crooked Cat, dropping from T-14 to T-36.
"There's still three days to go, so no need to get too excited or too mad at myself," Weekley said. That was evident as Weekley made his way up the ninth fairway -- his 18th hole of the day -- to finish off a long, exhausting day of more than five and a half hours of golf. "We were walkin' up nine and talking about how there's probably some good fish in that pond there," he said. "Everybody out here can be on that tour, but there's more to life than just golf you see."
Indeed. Weekley's first order of business after his round wasn't hitting the range to work on straightening out his driver, or the practice green to improve his putting stroke. Boo's wife was on her way into town.
"I'm going to go home, take a bath, put some cologne on and maybe get some candles," he joked. "We'll probably go have a nice dinner."
With three more rounds to play, Weekley knows there's still too much golf left to start thinking ahead. Even when there isn't, he won't allow himself to.
"The goal [of two-under every day] is still the goal," Weekley said. "It shouldn't change how you feel about the way you played."
So far, he hasn't met that goal. Weekley was three-under the first day and one-under the second day, meaning his round of even par Friday puts him a little behind schedule. Not that it matters to him, not yet and maybe not ever.
"The dream is always there, and it's always going to be there," Weekley said. "Whether I play the Nationwide Tour, or the Hooters Tour or the mini-tours, the dream is always going to be the dream.
"Everybody out here can play on that tour."
When Notah Begay III came off the course Thursday and saw the scores that were posted by the rest of the field, he admitted to being discouraged. When he walked off the course Friday, he was "ecstatic."
A day after tumbling down the leaderboard, Begay clawed his way back up it, moving from 117th to 84 with a three-under 69 that included a chip-in on Panther Lake's 16th hole and a lengthy two-putt to save par on the ninth -- his final hole of the day.
"It was huge, a tremendous boost of momentum to have the kind of round I did today," Begay said. When your future is on the line you'll try almost anything and Begay did just that, not only switching putters to a TaylorMade Rossa prototype, but taking a few putting tips from his sport psychologist Gio Valiante while practicing at nearby Isleworth.
"There's a lot of golf left, and the pressure is only going to escalate, so I really have to try and stay focused," Begay said. "I don't think I'll need to shoot lights out at Crooked Cat [Saturday], and I have a feeling the field is going to come back a little bit so I just have to play a similar type of round."
Golf is about momentum and repetition, and unfortunately for Bill Haas that came in the form of three straight bogeys on holes 4, 5 and 6 at Crooked Cat. That meant three straight phone calls home to father Jay from Bill's mom Janice.
"He stopped answering and turned the phone on vibrate," Janice said. Only a birdie on the ninth hole, his last of the day, saved Haas' round from being worse than a 1-over 73. Nonetheless, he dropped from 14th to 48 and on the outside looking in, for now.
Brian Wacker is an assistant editor for GolfDigest.com