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DA Weibring joins Champions Tour

D.A. Weibring's preparation for the Champions Tour was somewhat hindered by his son Matt's aspirations, but he hopes to make up for lost time starting at this week's Music City Championship at Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tenn.

Many veterans closing in on their 50th birthday will tip-toe off to the Nationwide Tour for a few weeks just to get a feel for competitive golf again. But Weibring was more concerned with his son's career than his own.

"Matt has conditional status on the Nationwide (Tour) and I didn't want to get in his way," Weibring said. "I didn't want to take a spot that he might have gotten, so I've just been working on my game at home."

Matt Weibring, an All-American at Georgia Tech, just graduated and will be playing more now, so his father feels free to focus on the Champions Tour.

Weibring, who turned 50 on Sunday, isn't wasting any time returning to competition, either. He is 60th on the career earnings list and therefore should get in most of the Tournaments the rest of the year. Weibring will be playing each of the next three weeks.

"Then (I'll) see where I go from there," Weibring said. "I'm really looking forward to playing again, getting competitive and seeing how well I can do."

D.A. Weibring won the Canon Greater Hartford Open in 1996. (Getty Images)
Weibring's last big year was 1996 when his victory at the Canon Greater Hartford Open was one of the most emotional stories of the year.

After taking seven weeks off while suffering from walking pneumonia, Weibring was ready to leave his home in Texas and return to the PGA Tour at Doral the first week of March. When he woke up one day, though, his face was paralyzed and he couldn't close his right eye.

Weibring was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, a virus that caused the temporary paralysis on the right side of his face. He didn't play again for four weeks and then probably shouldn't have -- missing the cut at the Masters and the MCI Heritage. He entered four more Tournaments, but after missing cuts at the Bank of America Colonial and Memorial Tournament in May, he didn't play again until Hartford.

"I didn't know what to expect,' he said. "I just went to do the best I could."

Wiebring's best turned out to be better than anyone else. He got into contention with a second-round 65, then fired a closing 67 to beat runner-up Tom Kite by four shots for his fifth career victory.

The comeback story wasn't the only thing special about that win -- it was Weibring's first outside his home state of Illinois. His first victory came in his second year on Tour at the 1979 Ed McMahon-Jaycees Quad Cities Open. He also won the 1987 Beatrice Western Open, 1991 Hardee's Golf Classic and the Quad City Classic again in '95, when he had four top-10 finishes and was 36th on the money list.

In the last four years, Weibring has greatly reduced his schedule, devoting most of his time to his golf design and management company. The D.A. Weibring/Golf Resources Group has been involved in 60 projects, including the Tournament Players Club at Deere Run, which became the host of the John Deere Classic in 2000.

Weibring says that other than a little wrist and shoulder "just general wear and tear" he feels pretty good overall and is ready for a fairly full schedule the rest of the year.

"I only played one Tournament this year, at Hilton Head (where he tied for 67th at 1 over), but physically I've been working out pretty hard," Weibring said. "I don't know how long it will take me to get back in the groove, but I see some guys come out and play well right away.

"I'm really excited about it. I feel like a rookie all over again, going to new cities, looking up where to stay, where to eat and playing a lot of courses I've never played before.

"It's regretful in a way, turning the page on your Tour career, but it's exciting to be able to start playing again on a regular basis. I know I'm starting in mid-year, but with my exemption off the money list, I should be able to play a pretty full schedule, so who knows?"

 

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