Weibring Overcomes Kites 61 for Win

By Sports NetworkSeptember 21, 2003, 4:00 pm
CARY, N.C. -- D.A. Weibring finished eagle-birdie Sunday en route to a 6-under 66 and the win at the SAS Championship. His 54-hole total of 13-under-par 203 edged out record-setting Tom Kite and Bobby Wadkins.
Kite established a course record at Prestonwood Country Club with an 11-under-par 61 on Sunday. His career-best score allowed him to finish two hours before Weibring, while Wadkins posted a 3-under 69.
Jim Thorpe nearly holed his approach from the fairway at 18 but missed the four-footer for birdie. He carded a 6-under 66 and tied for fourth place with Tom Jenkins (67), Doug Tewell (68) and Wayne Levi (68). The group came in at 11-under-par 205.
Kite was in the clubhouse at minus-12 while Weibring and Wadkins were competing on the back nine. Weibring was 4 under on his round when he reached the 16th hole at 11-under for the championship. He missed a short par- saving putt at No. 16 to fall to minus-10, two strokes behind Kite.
Weibring reached the par-5 17th with a 4-wood and canned the eight-footer to match Kite and Tewell in the lead at 12 under par. Wadkins, playing two groups behind Weibring, sank a 45-foot birdie putt at No. 16 to also join the logjam atop the leaderboard.
At the 18th, Weibring found the fairway off the tee, then knocked a 6-iron to 15 feet. Tewell failed to get up and down for par to lose any hope winning the title but Weibring drained the birdie putt to go one ahead and prompt Kite to walk off the driving range, knowing he would not be part of any potential playoff.
That left Wadkins as the only man who could catch Weibring. Wadkins landed in the fairway at the reachable 17th but pulled his fairway-metal approach right into the rough. He pitched his third 20 feet short of the hole and missed the putt that would have knotted him with Weibring.
At No. 18, Wadkins drove into the rough on the left side, just in front of a fairway bunker. The ball was well below his feet and Wadkins did his best to muscle the ball 40 feet left of the cup. Wadkins putted missed right and the win was Weibring's.
'I feel very fortunate. I feel very blessed,' said Weibring, who pocketed $270,000 for the win. 'You never know. You focus on one shot at a time, I'm sure that helped.'
The win was Weibring's first on the Champions Tour in only his 10th start since turning 50 in May. He won five times on the PGA Tour but his win on the elder circuit came with some distractions.
Weibring has battled flu-like symptoms all week, had a recurring neck injury and on Saturday, he tweaked a rib problem. All of this led Weibring to heed the advice of his caddie on Sunday and he hopped in a cart after the fourth hole.
'Today I got a little weak on the back nine,' admitted Weibring. 'It's like making a free throw -- go through the routine. It's amazing how things fall into place.'
Kite made four birdies in a row from the third hole but really took off on the second nine. He birdied 11 then made four more in a row to get to 9 under par on his round.
Kite landed in a bunker at the 17th but blasted out to three feet to set up birdie. He ran home a 12-footer for birdie at the 18th to post his career low round.
'I really had a nice day today,' understated Kite. 'I'm just ecstatic with the way the thing went. I'm pleased with the week and I made a lot of good progress, especially on the greens.'
Wadkins mixed four birdies and a bogey for his 69 on Sunday but failed to make the move late in the round. The runner-up finish was his third in the 2003 season.
Craig Stadler (67), Jose Maria Canizares (66), Mike Hill (67) and Andy Bean (69) shared ninth place at minus-9.
Overnight leader Jim Ahern struggled with four bogeys on his front nine and finished with a 4-over 76. He tied for 12th at 8 under par while two-time champion Bruce Lietzke was never a factor and finished at even-par for the tournament.
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