For the past three seasons, Garaway Pirates senior golfer Brevin Weaver has had the honor of playing at the state golf tournament with his teammates. Weaver will make a fourth trip to state this year, but this time he will be on his own.
After a decade of qualifying for the state tournament, both in Div. II and Div. III, Garaway failed to make it out of districts this year. The Pirates’ score of 338 left them in third place behind champion Strasburg’s 307 and Hiland’s 332, but this group of Pirates was extremely young with two freshmen and two sophomores joining Weaver, the lone senior on the starting five. However, Weaver’s 78 earned him the individual berth, and he will play at the big show one final time.
For Weaver, the chance to return to state is an honor he will not take lightly, and it will be a wonderful way for a talented player who has been the model of consistency this season to cap off his incredible career.
“Coming into this tournament, I would have loved to shoot a little better than I did, and our number-one goal was to get back to state as a team,” Weaver said. “That didn’t happen, and we struggled, but I am happy and honored to be able to go back to Columbus one more time to cap off my career.”
Early on it didn’t look good for Weaver’s chances. He went bogey, double bogey and was three-over par after two holes, not the start he wanted. It could have gotten really ugly, but to his credit, Weaver has been through this before. He gathered himself mentally and got on a roll. He made the turn at 38, finishing the front side with five pars and a birdie.
“That start really threw me,” Weaver said. Coming off a sectional tournament where he shot an ugly and uncharacteristic 91, thoughts of that day flashed through his mind before he quickly erased them following the bogey, double-bogey start.
“I really tried to focus on staying in the present today,” Weaver said. “Sectionals was pretty bad, and it did come to mind early on, but I was able to push that aside and stay focused and not get too caught up in looking ahead.”
His back nine was sailing along until he started to wobble late. He followed up a bogey on 16 with another one at 17. Then on the final hole he dumped his approach shot in the water.
He then knocked a chip shot 8 feet past the hole, but his bogey putt lipped out. His double-bogey finish left him at 78, a score he felt would not be good enough to advance him to the state tournament.
One by one his major competitors fell to the wayside. Two major challenges in Hiland’s Dylan Kaufman and Bruce Yoder came in at 80 and 81, respectively. Weaver was playing with Kaufman, who limped to a 43 on the front before soaring back with a stellar 37 on the back, and Weaver thought Kaufman had actually beaten him until he looked at the official cards.
It all boiled down to Fort Frye’s Ben Wagner, a talented golfer who had fired a 38 on the back side, where Fort Frye started the tournament. Weaver knew it was going to be tight, but Wagner ballooned to a 43 on the back, and the individual championship was Weaver’s because Strasburg’s foursome of Calvin Willis (76), Mike Neidenthal (76), Dylan Tucker (77) and Mitch Neidenthal (78) were already going as a team.
Being one of the first players in, the waiting game was agonizing for Weaver.
“After I dumped that ball in the water and took double on the last hole, I felt I probably was not going to get out,” Weaver said. “I guess I played well enough during a large stretch to move on. I am just thankful to get out and to have one more chance to play at state.”
Weaver’s experience at the state tournament has included play at Northstar Golf Course in Sunbury two times and last year when the Pirates played at the Ohio State University’s Scarlett Course, where this year’s tournament will again be played.
Weaver said the honor of playing at state will never get old, and with this being his last go around, he wants to just go down and play the best golf he can play, and whatever happens will happen.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll play better than last year,” Weaver said with a laugh, referring to his two-day scores of 89 and 82. “That was rough, but if I just keep playing the best I can and stay focused in the moment, I think that will help me improve.”