Notes VaTechs Weaver Honors Slain Students

By Associated PressApril 7, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- With his schools logo on his shirt, cap and golf bag, Drew Weaver looks a lot like all those other college kids whove been lucky enough to earn a spot at the Masters over the years.
Except Weaver plays for Virginia Tech, and proudly representing his school has taken on a whole new meaning in the last year.
With everything thats happened, Im more than happy to wear the logo and try to put a positive reputation for the university out there, he said Monday. Every time that I go out with a Virginia Tech logo on my bag or my shirt or my hat, Im going to be playing for all of our students and our faculty and everybody involved with the university.
Obviously, those who passed on April 16 last year are going to be right in the forefront of who Ill be playing for.
It was last April 16 that a student opened fire in a classroom building on the Virginia Tech campus, killing 32 students and faculty members before killing himself. One of the victims, Ryan Clark, was from Martinez, Ga., a suburb of Augusta.
Weaver, who would have been in a class in that very building at the same time the next day, was in an accounting class about 100 yards away when the shootings occurred. He and a teammate were leaving their building when they heard gunshots.
It was a terrifying few seconds, he said. We couldnt really tell where the shots were coming from. We had a general idea, but we didnt know if they were coming towards us. It was just one of those natural instincts to get as far away as possible, and thats what we did.
Is it something that I think about every day? Id say it doesnt necessarily come into my thoughts every day, but its definitely very frequent, Weaver said. Everywhere you go, people ask how the university is doing, and thats great. We appreciate the support, but it is tough to relive the memories.
But hell do it, if only so those who were killed arent forgotten.
He wore the Virginia Tech logo and colors last summer, when he played in the British Open after a surprising victory at the British Amateur. Weaver was the first U.S. player to win the British Amateur since Jay Sigel in 1979. No American had even made the final since 1983.
As the British Amateur champion, he also earned a spot at Augusta.
My whole summer was a blur, looking back at it. I didnt really have that much time to think about going to the British Open and playing in it, but this is different, Weaver said. Its just such an incredible week and I just cant believe'I still cant believe that Im actually a part of it and playing in it.
Weaver had played Augusta National 13 times before Mondays practice round, enough to make him feel at home. He even gave Johnson Wagner a few pointers. Wagner, a Virginia Tech alum, clinched a spot at the Masters on Sunday with his victory at the Houston Open.
No amateur has made the cut the last two years. But Weaver hopes he has the game'and the patience'to end that trend.
You see a lot of guys get impatient and make a bogey or two and end up blowing up, he said. I want to stay patient because I know I have the game.
And plenty of support.
Prayad Marksaeng has a big group of fans this week.
His entire country.
Marksaeng is the third Thai-born golfer to play in the Masters, receiving one of the exemptions given to foreign players who wouldnt otherwise qualify. Liang Wen-Chong of China and Indias Jeev Milka Singh also got exemptions, which are designed to help broaden golfs appeal around the world.
I am representing my country this week, and it will energize golf, Prayad said. Everyone will be watching the Masters.
Prayad, 42, got interested in golf as a way to pass the time on his way to school. He had to walk across the Royal Hua Hin Golf Club to get to school and, at 12, decided he could make the walk go quicker if he hit a golf ball with a club made out of a tree branch. He later shagged balls for Suthep Meesawat, one of the top pros in Thailand at the time.
When Prayad got older, the owner of the Royal Hua Hin club started a team and gave Prayad his first set of real clubs.
Prayad has won six times on the Asian Tour, and in 1999 became the first Thai to qualify for the British Open.
Its great to be here, not just for myself, but for my friends and family, Prayad said. Ill try to do my best. This is a lifetime dream.
Sukree Onsham was the first Thai-born golfer to play at Augusta National, appearing in 1970 and 1971. Thongchai Jaidee was here in 2006. Neither made the cut.
Of course, Thailand does have a claim to the worlds best player. Tiger Woods mother, Kultida, is from Thailand.
Prayad has played with Woods. The two were paired for the first two days of the 1997 Asian Honda Classic, which Woods won by 10 strokes.
It was very hard for me to concentrate that day, Prayad said. There were so many people, but they werent there to see me.
Stephen Ames came up to Augusta National three weeks ago for a practice round, and he brought some company. Ames invited a teenager from his junior golf program in Trinidad, 17-year-old Ben Martin.
Hes still calling to say thank you, Ames said. Hes a good kid, a good player, and Im glad I did it. He got to play eight holes, including Amen Corner, which he probably wasnt supposed to do. It was lot of fun. This can open his eyes, let him see things he wouldnt normally see, and picture where he wants to be someday.
Ames said Martin is good enough to get a college scholarship, perhaps somewhere in Florida.
The trip to Augusta was on Monday of the CA Championship at Doral, and Martin certainly had a full week. He returned to Miami with Ames, and when the tournament was carried over to Monday because of rain, he wound up caddying for Ames for the final four holes.
Sean OHair made his Masters debut in 2006, and played Augusta National for the first time that Tuesday in a practice round with none other than Tiger Woods and Mark OMeara.
Talk about a nerve-racking experience.
I needed a diaper, just in case, OHair said last month at Bay Hill. It was pretty overwhelming.
When he arrived Monday and headed for his locker, he found his allotment of golf balls, gloves, hats'and thankfully, no diapers.
I was expecting to see one in there, he said. If you do put one in there, just make sure its clean.
This wasnt the result David Toms wanted.
No, not his golf game. Thats fine. His alma maters basketball team, now thats a different story.
Toms stayed up late Sunday to watch LSU play Tennessee in the national semifinals. It was the fifth straight year the Lady Tigers had made it to the Final Four'and the fifth straight year they lost in the semifinals. This loss was particularly tough, with Tennessee winning 47-46 on Alexis Hornbuckles putback with less than a second left.
It was a good game, Toms said. Too bad we came out on the losing end again.

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    List takes Thomas to 18 putting with a wedge

    By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 7:57 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – As he walked off the sixth tee on Wednesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Luke List “swiped” his putter into what he thought was a bush. It was a wall.

    List’s putter bent slightly, which meant he wasn’t allowed to employ it the rest of the round. Using a wedge to putt, he lost his opening-day match to Justin Thomas, 2 down.

    “Stupid on my part,” List said. “I'll get the club fixed and go on to my next two matches.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Despite his putting disadvantage, List pushed Thomas to the 18th hole thanks to birdies at Nos. 13, 15 and 16, which included a chip-in from 18 feet at 15. Thomas was 3 up with four holes to play and managed to birdie the last, but it was far from stress-free.

    “I was thinking about it, how bad that would hurt if I couldn't get it done,” Thomas said. “He hit some great putts and he made some good ones when he needed to.”

    The situation also prompted Thomas to change his strategy on the greens, with not nearly as many conceded putts as normal.

    “He putted probably two or three putts I wouldn't have made him putt with a putter,” Thomas said. “[No. 13] was a short putt he's probably going to make. It had a lot of break. But 12, that putt was 2 feet straight uphill. But I was like he's got a wedge, so I'm going to make him putt it.”

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    Group standings at WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 21, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Here are the group standings for pool play at the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas. The player with the most points in each pool advanced to Saturday's Round of 16 in Austin, Texas. Click here for scoring and click here for the bracket.

    Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
    (1) D. Johnson (2) J. Thomas: 1-0-0 (3) J. Rahm (4) J. Spieth
    (32) K. Kisner (21) F. Molinari: 1-0-0 (28) K. Aphibarnrat (19) P. Reed
    (38) A. Hadwin
    (48) P. Kizzire: 0-1-0 (43) C. Reavie (34) H. Li
    (52) B. Wiesberger
    (60) L. List: 0-1-0 (63) K. Bradley (49) C. Schwartzel
    Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8
    (5) H. Matsuyama: 1-0-0 (6) R. McIlroy (7) S. Garcia (8) J. Day
    (30) P. Cantlay: 0-1-0
    (18) B. Harman (20) X. Schauffele (25) L. Oosthuizen
    (46) C. Smith: 1-0-0 (44) J. Vegas (41) D. Frittelli (42) J. Dufner
    (53) Y. Miyazato: 0-1-0 (51) P. Uihlein (62) S. Sharma (56) J. Hahn
    Group 9 Group 10 Group 11 Group 12
    (9) T. Fleetwood (10) P. Casey (11) M. Leishman (12) T. Hatton: 1-0-0
    (26) D. Berger (31) M. Fitzpatrick (23) B. Grace (22) C. Hoffman: 0-1-0
    (33) K. Chappell (45) K. Stanley (35) B. Watson (36) B. Steele: 1-0-0
    (58) I. Poulter (51) R. Henley (64) J. Suri (55) A. Levy: 0-1-0
    Group 13 Group 14 Group 15 Group 16
    (13) A. Noren: 1-0-0 (14) P. Mickelson (15) P. Perez: 0-1-0 (16) M. Kuchar
    (29) T. Finau (17) R. Cabrera Bello (24) G. Woodland: 0-1-0 (27) R. Fisher
    (39) T. Pieters (40) S. Kodaira (37) W. Simpson: 0-1-0 (47) Y. Ikeda
    (61) K. Na: 0-1-0 (59) C. Howell III (50) S.W. Kim: 0-1-0 (54) Z. Johnson
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    Hot Seat: The driver is burning Tiger

    By Randall MellMarch 21, 2018, 6:51 pm

    The men’s first major championship of the year is two weeks away, the women’s just a week away.

    Here’s our Hot Seat lineup with the approach of the Masters and the ANA Inspiration in mind:

    Smoking carbon composites – Tiger Woods

    Woods is the betting favorite to win the Masters in most sportsbooks, and while his game is coming together quickly, he won’t be the experts’ pick without getting his driver under control.

    The driver looks like the last piece Woods needs to once more become the favorite wherever he goes.

    Right now, though, there’s an open wound that needs to be cauterized before he heads to Augusta National.

    That double-cross Woods blew into someone’s backyard along the 16th hole Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational came from a reservoir of uncertainty that his driver continues to create. 

    Woods has come a long way with his driver. When he pulls it out of the bag, it isn’t like he’s ripping a bandage off anymore, not the way it was three and four years ago. Still, he doesn’t pull that club with the same relish Rory McIlroy does, or Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, for that matter. Physically and psychologically, they’ve got an advantage on him until he does. 

    Woods did not qualify for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship, so he’s got extra time to address his biggest shortcoming.

    “Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver,” Golf Channel’s Notah Begay said earlier this week. “Tiger has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”

    Dustin Johnson at the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship.

    Smoldering Tex Mex Tango – Dustin Johnson

    The world No. 1 is playing just fine enough since his victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at year’s start. He’s just been overshadowed by the brilliance of a lot of fellow stars.

    With McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas all winning in the last month, with Woods stepping up his game, Johnson has been quietly toiling toward the Masters.

    Johnson has won 10 times since Woods' last victory, and yet Woods is the 8-to-1 favorite to win the Masters.

    Johnson, McIlroy and Thomas are listed at 10-to-1 by the Westgate Las Vegas SportsBook.

    It doesn’t rankle Johnson.

    “It’s fine with me,” he said Tuesday. “He’s playing pretty well.”

    Even as the defending champ this week at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, Johnson isn’t center stage, not with McIlroy marching into town off his dominant finish at the API.

    Flying relatively under the radar might seem like a comfortable position for a world No. 1, but he won’t stay atop the world rankings for long flying under the radar.

    Shanshan Feng during Round 2 at the 2017 Japan Classic.

    Rolex Ranking Roast – Shanshan Feng

    The women’s Rolex world No. 1 enters the week at the Kia Classic trying to hold off a strong field with the ANA Inspiration looming next week.

    The top seven players in the world rankings, and 11 of the top 12, are at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, California.

    Feng has quietly reigned atop the world rankings for 19 consecutive weeks, holding off bids to overtake her by No. 2 Lexi Thompson, No. 3 So Yeon Ryu and No. 4 Sung Hyun Park.

    They’ve all been close enough in world ranking average this year to take the top spot, but Feng isn’t backing down. She’s winless so far this this year, but she has finished fifth or better in two of her three starts.

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    Match-by-match: 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 1

    By Will GrayMarch 21, 2018, 6:32 pm

    Here is how things played out on Day 1 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play:

    Group 2: (2) Justin Thomas def. (60) Luke List, 2 up: In perhaps the most entertaining match of the morning, Thomas edged List in a rematch of last month's Honda Classic playoff despite List spending much of the round putting with a wedge after bending his putter. Thomas was 3 up with four to play before List pushed the match the distance.

    Group 2: (21) Francesco Molinari def. (48) Patton Kizzire, 3 and 1: Molinari turned a tight match into a victory thanks to a few timely errors from Kizzire. Pars on Nos. 14 and 17 were good enough to win the hole for Molinari, with the latter sealing his victory and moving him a step closer to a potential winner-take-all battle with Thomas on Friday.

    Group 4: (4) Jordan Spieth def. (49) Charl Schwartzel, 2 and 1: The top seed in the group scored an early point in a battle between former Masters champs. Spieth never trailed and took control of the match with three straight wins on Nos. 12-14.

    Group 4: (19) Patrick Reed def. (34) Haotong Li, 3 and 2: Reed's much-anticipated match with Spieth is still two days away, but he dispatched of Li in his opener by winning the opening hole and never trailing the rest of the way. Li got to within one of Reed after 10 holes but the American won three of the next five to separate.

    Group 5: (5) Hideki Matsuyama def. (53) Yusaku Miyazato, 2 and 1: This all-Japanese battle went to the group's top seed, as Matsuyama poured in a birdie on the par-3 17th to close out the match. Miyazato got off to a strong start, holding a 2-up lead through six holes, before Matsuyama turned the tables with two birdies over the next three holes.

    Group 5: (46) Cameron Smith def. (30) Patrick Cantlay, 2 up: Smith never trailed in the match, but it turned into a closer contest than it appeared when the Aussie held a 3-up lead with four holes to play. Uihlein won the next two holes, but he couldn't get any closer as Smith earned a critical victory as he looks to earn a Masters spot by staying in the top 50 in the world rankings after this week.

    Group 8: (8) Jason Day def. (56) James Hahn, 4 and 2: Day is a former winner of this event, and he separated from Hahn on the back nine to score an early point. Hahn offered a concession on No. 13 to fall 3 down, then conceded again on No. 16 to close the match.

    Group 9: (58) Ian Poulter def. (9) Tommy Fleetwood, 3 and 2: The match between Englishman went to the veteran, as Poulter took his putter from the 2012 Ryder Cup out of the closet and put it to quick use. Fleetwood won only two holes during the match, none after the eighth hole, and he now faces the prospect of early elimination as the group's top seed.

    Group 9: (33) Kevin Chappell def. (26) Daniel Berger, 3 and 2: Chappell and Berger were Presidents Cup teammates in the fall, but the opener went to Chappell. Berger won the 13th hole to draw all square, but Chappell reeled off three straight birdies on Nos. 14-16 in response to close out the match.

    Group 12: (12) Tyrrell Hatton def. (55) Alexander Levy, 3 and 2: Hatton won the opening hole with a par and never trailed the rest of the way. Levy's win on the eighth hole proved to be his only victory of the day, as Hatton barely had to break a sweat after building a 3-up lead through five holes.

    Group 12: (36) Brendan Steele def. (22) Charley Hoffman, 1 up: Steele never trailed in the match and at one point held a 4-up lead, but coming down the stretch it took everything he had to keep Hoffman at bay. Hoffman won four in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 13-17, but a par on the final hole was enough to give Steele the full point.

    Group 13: (61) Kevin Na def. (13) Alex Noren, 4 and 2: The biggest upset from the early matches came here, as Na turned a close contest into a blowout. The two men were all square after 11 holes, but Na won three of the next four and then closed out the match when Noren conceded on the par-5 16th.

    Group 13: (29) Tony Finau def. (39) Thomas Pieters, 2 and 1: Two of the longest hitters in the field squared off in this tilt, with Finau notching a full point despite losing two of the first three holes. The American birdied the 15th to take a 2-up lead, then closed out Pieters with a par on the 17th hole.

    Group 15: (15) Pat Perez vs. (50) Si Woo Kim, halved: The first match of the day ended up in a draw, as the top seed rallied from a deficit to salvage half a point. Kim won three of the first six holes and held a 3-up lead with seven holes to go, but Perez fought back with four birdies over the next six holes to draw even.

    Group 15: (24) Gary Woodland vs. (37) Webb Simpson, halved: This group remains entirely up for grabs since nothing was decided on the opening day. Woodland took a 3-up lead at the turn, but Simpson rallied by winning four of the next seven holes, including a birdie on No. 17 that brought him back to all square for the first time since the third hole.