DA Weibring joins Champions
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
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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