Weaver remembers playing 2008 Masters as amateur
April 11, 2020
By Preston Smith, PGATOUR.COM
- April 11, 2020
- Drew Weaver qualified for the 2008 Masters via his victory at The Amateur in 2007. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
“It was early on Monday morning, before the gates opened, and I figured I would hit a couple of putts before all of the people get there,” said Drew Weaver, reflecting on the beginning of Masters week in 2008. “I walk up to the putting green and there’s one guy on the putting green.
“It was Tiger.”
Weaver was embarking on one of the biggest weeks of his life to that point, a 20-year-old amateur playing in the Masters Tournament. And there stood the biggest icon in golf, maybe the biggest icon in sports.
“I had never met him before,” said Weaver. “I kind of built up the courage to meet him. I told myself to go be a man and introduce yourself. At one point, we were walking in a similar direction on the green and I finally just walked up and introduced myself. He asked me how the college season was going and made me feel like just another player in the field, like I deserved to be there. The last thing he told me was, ‘Have fun this week but play well. Make it count.’ It was an awesome way to start my Masters week, just me and Tiger with no one else around. Pretty sweet.”
Meeting Tiger was just the start of a whirlwind week, but in truth Weaver felt more comfortable than most amateurs on the grounds of Augusta National. After gaining entry by winning The Amateur Championship in 2007, the first American to win The Amateur since 1979, Weaver took full advantage of his competitor perks.
“Back then as a competitor, you could play as many times as you wanted in the leadup,” said Weaver, then a student at Virginia Tech. “The Club would host you, cook you meals and let you bring one guest. I took six or seven trips down that spring to play practice rounds, 18-hole days and 36-hole days. Typically Thursday after a team practice I would hit the road to Augusta.”
Weaver took six or seven trips down that spring from Blacksburg, Virginia, to Augusta, stopping at his parents’ house in North Carolina along the way. He estimated he played 25 or 30 practice rounds and got very comfortable, even learning a lot of the staff members’ names.
“Obviously the tournament itself was incredible, but the way they treat amateurs in the leadup is unmatched,” said Weaver. “You can tell it’s based on the Club’s founder Bobby Jones and the way he treated people. It was the tone he set when he founded the Club. They go above and beyond to make the amateurs feel like the stars of the show.”Drew Weaver played collegiately at Virginia Tech, graduating in 2009 with a degree in business marketing. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
When tournament week rolled around, Weaver got to experience one of the quirks of Augusta National firsthand. As an amateur he had the opportunity to stay in the Crow’s Nest above the clubhouse and gladly accepted.
“It was Michael Thompson and I staying up there that week, and with just two people it was perfect,” said Weaver. “The convenience and proximity is unmatched; being able to walk down from your room into everything that you ever dreamed of was incredible … I didn’t have a lot of schoolwork that week, but I definitely remember knocking out a quiz or two up in the Crow’s Nest.”
The last player in the field was Johnson Wagner, a fellow Virginia Tech alum and good friend of Weaver’s. Wagner had won the week before at the Houston Open and sought out Weaver for some advice on the course. On Wednesday, Wagner played a practice round with Tom Watson, and Weaver went down to meet the pair as they finished on 18.
“I met Tom and asked him if he had any advice for me,” said Weaver. “He said, ‘Don’t forget how to breathe. When you are at the putting green and they raise the ropes for you to take the 15-yard walk to the first tee, your lungs are going to stop working. You will be gasping for air.’
“Sure enough, fast forward to Thursday and I remember marking my golf ball on the practice putting green and don’t remember anything else until after I hit my first tee shot. I was so nervous, I don’t think I took a breath for about 50 seconds. Watson was spot-on.”I definitely remember knocking out a quiz or two up in the Crow's Nest.
Ultimately Weaver didn’t play up to his standards that week, missing the cut after rounds of 76-80. He described poor putting and the firmness and quickness of the course getting the best of him. He may have even overprepared with his pre-tournament trips. But there were some highlights too.
“I almost made a hole-in-one at the 16th in the first round,” said Weaver. “I hit this little draw 8-iron and it took one hop and started tracking towards the hole. I thought it went in, the way the crowd yelled. It ended up about 10 inches from the hole; it must have rolled within about two inches of it though. I remember it made the official highlights and even the highlight DVD.
“I look back on it, and obviously I wish I played better, but the things that stand out to me are the people I met and the relationships I made. Just recently I went back down there as a guest and one of the merchandisers there, Wanda, said, ‘I saw Drew Weaver on the sheet this morning and I was hoping it was our Drew.’ That was so neat of her to say. It’s like going back to see family.”
The memories of the Crow’s Nest and meeting Tiger Woods and Tom Watson are nice, but Weaver’s favorite part was looking around during his rounds and seeing so many familiar faces.
“It was almost like your wedding day; everyone’s there to support you in this incredible moment in your life,” said Weaver. “Looking around and seeing all of these friends and family representing all of these different stages of my life, it was an amazing feeling.”