Longwood U. golfer earns chance of lifetime at U.S. Amateur

After a breakout sophomore season in 2017-18 for Brandon Weaver, carding four top-25 finishes this past spring and collecting his first win with the Longwood men’s golf team at the 2018 Manor Intercollegiate in Farmville, the rising junior has beat the odds to qualify for one of the most prestigious amateur events in the sport.

This week Weaver has the chance to break out on an even larger stage and play in the same field as many of the world’s top amateur golfers at the 2018 United States Amateur Championship.

It took a massive effort from Weaver just to earn a spot at the event, which has seen the likes of Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods all win at the onset of their legendary careers.

“It’s such an incredible honor to play in this event and be able to represent Longwood,” Weaver said. “I don’t even have words to describe how anxious and excited I am to get out to California and play in the U.S. Am.”

The Longwood junior will tee it up beginning with his Monday afternoon tee time of 5:30 p.m. ET to begin play at the United States Amateur Championship – a former major championship and the oldest championship held annually by the United States Golf Association. This year’s tournament will be held at world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links, which is the 2019 U.S. Open host, and also Spyglass Hill Golf Club.

“When you look at the U.S. Amateur being one of the four original majors in golf — the oldest USGA Championship — it’s just an honor to be in the field,” said Longwood head men’s golf coach Kevin Fillman. “It’s so difficult to qualify. When you go to a qualifying spot there’s 80 guys competing for two or three spots. So just getting in the field is a fantastic accomplishment. It’s just going to give Brandon a lot of confidence moving forward – I know that’ll happen regardless of what happens at the actual tournament.”

However, for Weaver it wasn’t an opportunity he thought would present itself earlier this summer.

Weaver was a different golfer than he had been at the end of the school year when he headed into July’s U.S. Amateur Qualifier played at James River Country Club in Newport News, Va. He was not producing the finishes he accomplished in the spring where he posted five rounds of even-par or better, but Weaver wouldn’t let his atypical struggles hinder his play when he needed it the most.

“Prior to qualifying for the U.S. Am, I missed the cut in the Virginia State Amateur Championship and was playing golf uncharacteristic of me,” Weaver said. “Even at my home course, I was hitting some very poor shots and posting some pretty high scores.”

The Monday of the 36-hole U.S. Amateur Qualifier Weaver went in with a different mindset to his round – one where he played with a clear mind. No expectations. No swing thoughts.

An early 6-under 64 followed by an afternoon 3-under 67 and Weaver placed runner-up in the 65-player field, finishing one stroke behind individual medalist Akshay Bhatia – the 103rd ranked amateur in the world.

That mental toughness to return to form earned Weaver one of three available spots from that qualifier in this week’s prestigious tournament field, consisting of 312 of the top amateur players in the world where he will look to become the first Lancer to advance to the 64-player match play field.

“Anything that gets the Longwood name out there – that’s huge for our program,” Fillman said. “We’ve had a player make the U.S. Amateur before but it’s been a number of years since we’ve had that. Anytime we have guys out there, whether they’re returners or former players, and they’re doing good things in golf it’s a reflection of what we’re doing here.”

Weaver becomes Longwood’s second player to qualify for the U.S. Amateur in the program’s Division I era, following in the footsteps of 2009 qualifier Adam Webb.

As for expectations this week in southern California, Weaver says he just wants to give it his best effort and see if where that leads him.

“Just go play golf and things will fall in place,” Fillman advised his third-year player. “I’ve always said that if you do things the way you’re supposed to, you won’t have to worry about a number on the scoreboard or what place you’re in, or anything of that nature.”

Weaver will look to follow his coach’s advice to go just play to test his game against the top amateurs in the world.

Story by Todd Lindenmuth/LongwoodLancers.com

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