Beaufort News

Weekley's reign of fun over… for now

The final hours of the First Age of Boo are upon us.

Barring the most shocking turn of Boo Weekley's two-year tenure in tartan, someone else will slip into that fancy plaid jacket this evening.

"It's done drawn to a close," Weekley said after a 1-under-par 70 left him tied for 26th after Saturday's third round. "When I hit it in the water there at 14, it kind of shot me out the window."

Unlike last year, when a pedestrian first round gave way to a pair of blistering ones in which Weekley took charge, he never captured the magic that made him the first back-to-back Heritage champion since Davis Love III in 1991 and 1992.

It seemed he almost had it corralled Saturday, rolling in birdies on the two par 5s on the front nine and adding a kick-in birdie at the par-4 12th, but he couldn't sustain it. Too many missed putts forced him to fire at flags, and an errant tee shot at the par-3 14th drifted right into the water, effectively drowning his chances of becoming the first player to win this tournament three consecutive times.

"If I could've made par there, I had the par-5 coming up, and I knew the pin was going to be up on 17, so I knew I had a chance there, too," Weekley said. "I was thinking ahead, and I needed to be thinking about what was in front of me."

What lies ahead now is a final round in which Weekley, the guy who has never left here without the title to his name, will begin the day 11 shots behind leader Brian Gay.

"Even right now, I still think if I can just get that putter working, ain't no telling what can happen," Weekley said. "I can go out there and I might shoot 10 under. I mean, you don't know.

"But a miracle would have to happen."

Judging by the reception the two-time defending champ received at each hole Saturday, showering him with what have become the customary "Booooos" at every twist and turn of Harbour Town Golf Links, the Lowcountry's adopted son will be given a proper sendoff during today's final round, provided he doesn't conjure up that miracle.

After the way he has carried himself during his two years as the Heritage champion, and for all intents and purposes the face of the tournament, he deserves nothing less.

During his first term as reigning champ, Weekley became the first player to pop into town for Sponsor Day in December. For stretches during his pro-am round Wednesday, Weekley walked outside the ropes, casually chatting with fans as he made his way around the course where the world was introduced to his incredible skill with a club in his hands.

But notice I dubbed it the First Age of Boo. Weekley doesn't figure it will be the last.

"How many times has (Davis Love III) won it? Five times?" Weekley asked before his three-peat attempt began. "That's going to be shot out the window. I'm going to get me six."

It will be interesting to see where the biggest crowds are a little before 2 p.m. today -- following the leaders off the first tee or walking with Weekley on what looks to be his last lap as the Heritage champ, at least for now.

Weekley's successor will have a tough act to follow, and when he returns for the opening ceremonies at next year's Heritage, he probably won't have gaggles of fans chanting his name or wearing clothes bearing it. That is not an indictment of Gay, or whoever dons tartan this evening, but a testament to the guy who hung the last two fancy jackets in his closet.

"I hope the next champion, whoever it is, is just as kind to them as I was," Weekley said of his adoring crowds at Harbour Town. "That's all I ask. And I'm pretty sure they will be.

"I know they ain't gonna be as much fun, but I'm pretty sure they'll be as nice."