Drew Weaver cards 65, earns first solo lead of career at WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Heinz
Competing in the third group of the day on a rainy morning at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Drew Weaver opened with a 6-under 65 to take the solo lead at the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Heinz. Weaver punctuated his round on the Witch Hollow course with an impressive up and down from the greenside bunker at the par-5 18th to take a one-stroke lead and tie his lowest round of the year.
“It’s good to get off to a nice start; I’ve really struggled with that the past month or so,” said Weaver, who has missed his last three cuts. “When you come out of the gate cold, that makes the second round hard and you’re fighting uphill to make the cut…I can’t control what anybody else does but I’m really happy with the way I played today.”
Weaver, a 33-year-old Virginia Tech alum, carded seven birdies against a lone bogey on Thursday in a round reminiscent of his first round on the same course in 2017. At the 2017 WinCo Foods Portland Open, Weaver posted a first-round 63 to take a share of the lead but followed it up with a second-round 78 before eventually finishing T30.
“I think I missed a number of cuts in a row coming into that week [in 2017] and I’d missed three straight now,” reflected Weaver, who became the first American winner of The Amateur Championship in 29 years after winning the 2008 tournament. “You do your best to forget the bad play, but it can still be tough to get over sometimes.”
For Weaver, golf has been secondary on his mind a lot this year. In the last few months, the former Hokie has closed on a house, moved to North Carolina and had his first child with his wife Elizabeth.
“It’s been an amazing year; we had our first child, our son Bills was born five months ago, so that’s been life-changing and has changed my perspective on everything,” said Weaver. “Being a dad is amazing and watching my wife be such a great mother is inspiring. It makes it hard to leave, but I’m thankful to have a place to play and have an opportunity to do well each week out here.”
Despite his opening 63 in 2017, Weaver has missed the cut twice in three attempts on the Witch Hollow course, a course he calls “demanding, but not unfair.”
“I look at this golf course a lot like Muirfield Village,” remarked Weaver. “I’ve gotten the opportunity to play out there twice with the Memorial, and it’s a place where if you’re on, you can score well. But if you’re not then it’s going to show…If you hit good shots you are going to have opportunities to make birdies.”
Weaver, who has averaged a shade under 295 yards per drive this season, leads a pair of long-hitting players by one stroke. Brent Grant and Max Greyserman, who rank third and fourth, respectively, in driving distance on Tour, carded matching 5-under 66s on Thursday. Each averages more than 329 yards per drive. Greyserman went 5-under on the back nine (his first nine) before coasting in, while Grant used an eagle at the par-5 fourth as the catalyst for his round.
Second-round tee times will run from 7 a.m. to 2:26 p.m. on Friday. The tournament will be broadcast live on Golf Channel at 4pm.