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Were it not for two late bogeys Saturday, D.A. Weibring would have had the round of the tournament at the Senior PGA Championship. (Photo: Getty Images)
Were it not for two late bogeys Saturday, D.A. Weibring would have had the round of the tournament at the Senior PGA Championship. (Photo: Getty Images)

From 80 to 68 keeps Weibring optimistic at Ocean Course

D.A. Weibring could have packed it in after his opening-round 80 at the Senior PGA Championship. But the veteran kept his focus and responded with a second-round 70 and a stellar 68 on Saturday that has him feeling good about himself.

By Lauren Deason, PGATOUR.com Editorial Coordinator

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- Little known fact -- who was the last player to shoot 80 in the first round of a PGA TOUR event and then rebound to win the tournament?

Here's a hint -- he's currently on the Champions Tour and his first and last initials begin with the same letter.

Still not sure? That'd be one Kenny Knox, who Monday qualified for The Honda Classic in 1986, shot 80 in the first round then grabbed his first PGA TOUR win with subsequent rounds of 66-80-70.

D.A. Weibring took a page out of Kenny Knox's book this week, opening with an 80 at the Senior PGA Championship but coming back with a second-round 70 and a 4-under 68 on Saturday. If not for two bogeys on the final three holes, he could have signed a third round card for a 6-under-par 66. Still, he's just nine shots back of tournament leader Eduardo Romero heading into the final round and knows that scores can fluctuate quickly at Kiawah Island.

"On a golf course like this, 30 years of experience tells you anything can happen," said Weibring. "I knew coming into this I was playing well. And I like this type of golf -- (it's) option golf."

Though he "made some mistakes" on Thursday -- that'd be nine bogeys and one double-bogey -- Weibring claims he didn't play as poorly as his card indicated. The flat stick just got away from him at times.

"We teed off late and we were into the wind and I really didn't putt very well. I three-putted my first couple of holes out of the box. And then I three-putted my final couple of holes," Weibring said. "I just didn't get steady in the wind on Thursday and I was trying to put the best score up and 80 was the best score I had."

In the second round on Friday, with Weibring making birdie on four holes on the front nine it was more like 70-is-the-best-score-day. It was also Weibring's birthday, which he celebrated in low-key style.

"We had dinner with my lovely wife, we got together with Peter and Jan Jacobsen and Mike O'Connell, who's from my hometown and works here. We had some fajitas and a little cake and went home," said the newly turned 54 year old, who got a nice present when he learned he'd still be in Kiawah Island for the weekend. "Peter and I thought we were both down the road with a 79 and 80 (but) we hung in there."

Hanging in there is something Weibring has done often in 2007, earning four top-10 finishes and four more in the top 30. He sits 15th on the Charles Schwab Cup points list, where players accumulate points based on top-10 finishes, and is 11th on the Champions Tour money list.

Born in Illinois, D.A. -- short for Donald Albert -- attended Illinois State University and earned four of his five PGA TOUR victories in his home state. Another notable fact, Weibring's son Matt followed in his dad's golfing footsteps, competing on the Nationwide Tour four of the past five years.

When he's not playing, the elder Weibring has his own golf course design and management company, the D.A. Weibring/Golf Resources Group. He's been in the course-design business for 20 years and has been involved with 80 projects, including the TPC Deere Run, which hosts the John Deere Classic on the PGA TOUR.

Having experience in the field gives him an appreciation for the work that architect Pete Dye did to create the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

"I have got a lot of respect for Pete," Weibring said. "I think he's very creative. The strategy, the angles, I would have loved to have seen the property before he started it. I know he's kind of reworked it a couple times. It's a beautiful setting."

Weibring then put on his architect hat, critiquing the course he called remarkable yet a little too tough. He would prefer to see less elevated greens and a little more sand in the bottom of the "things" -- a word he used continuously to describe the hard-as-concrete bunkers. The 1991 Ryder Cup held at the Ocean Course and the UBS Cup (a Ryder Cup-like competition for players over 50 held from 2001-2004 with the inaugural event at Kiawah Island) were both match-play tournaments, a format Weibring thinks works well at the venue.

"This is a stroke-play event. And maybe that's perfect for match play to have all these disasters. But it's another thing when you look at what happened to Ben Crenshaw, he was 6-under par, he hits it in (that) bunker," said Weibring, referring to Crenshaw's triple-bogey at No. 17 on Friday that dashed his momentum.

But during the third round, Weibring's group of himself, Doug Lacrosse and Bruce Fleisher managed to -- as he put it -- "tip toe around the disasters," combining to shoot 6-under for the day.

"We play off our partners and when guys are driving the ball in the fairway and having good birdie chances then there's a little momentum," said Weibring, who hopes to carry that momentum into the final day. "I think that Eduardo (Romero) is doing pretty good. Nick Price, the leaders may be protecting their position a little bit where we are trying to move forward. (Saturday) is moving day and I (was) trying to get the thing back in red numbers and I was close after being eight over on Thursday.

"So I need to keep doing what I'm doing tomorrow and try to keep going forward. You never know what's going to happen."

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