Teen Sensation Weaver Shoots 59

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coloweaver.jpg - Move over, Annika Sorenstam. Cave Creek's Lindsey Weaver wants a little piece of that "59'' fame!

That's right, Weaver, an 18-year-old senior who attends Cactus Shadows High School, recorded the coveted number during a recent PING Junior Interclub match on the Apache Course at Desert Mountain. And she did it with flair on that Sunday afternoon of Feb. 26, going 5-under par over the last four holes including a clutch eagle 3 on the 18th hole for the 59.

"It was so, so exciting,'' reported Weaver, who hit a rescue club from 183 yards up the hill to within 8 feet and then rolled in the putt with authority for the score of her life.

"I've made some big putts, and I try to be clutch. But that one was special.''

Weaver said none of the kids she was playing with in the Interclub matches seemed to realize what she had accomplished. After all, Sorenstam is the only female ever to shoot a 59, according to all available sources.

"But my parents knew, and some of the other parents knew,'' she said. "And I knew after the 14th hole that I needed four birdies and an eagle at 18 . . . and anything is possible if you believe.''

By comparison, Sorenstam shot her 59 in 2001 on the strength of 13 birdies at Moon Valley Country Club, which measured 6,459 yards at the time. The Swedish star was 12 under after 13 holes, with a birdie at the 17th and a par at the 18th closing out her second round of the LPGA event.

Weaver, who lives at Desert Mountain but has only played the Apache Course "a few times,'' got her 59 on a layout that measured "between 5,700 and 5,800 yards.'' She was 8 under through 13 holes on a day when she "made a lot of putts and hit it really close.'' And then came the fast-and-furious finish.

"I'd never really thought about it (shooting 59), but when I got the chance, I did it,'' noted Weaver, who will be heading off to South Bend, Ind., this fall to play college golf for Notre Dame.

Even though Weaver's 59 was posted on a course that essentially was about 750 yards shorter than the one Sorenstam conquered, it's still a 59, a number that most golfers only dream about. And it's not all about yardage; you still have to make the shots and hole putts.

For instance, Bubba Watson holds all the scoring records at the nearby Estancia Club with a 58 from the back tees (approximately 7,800 yards), a 59 from the middle tees (7,400 yards), and a 60 from the members' tees (7,000 yards). So shorter doesn't always mean easier. And for those who have ever played Apache, it's a rolling terrain that dishes up much tougher shots than those found at the flat-as-a-pancake Moon Valley, although both have challenging greens.

While Sorenstam is the only female pro to ever shoot 59, it has been done five times on the PGA Tour since Al Geiberger first pulled off the feat at the 1977 Memphis Classic. And it's been accomplished several times on the Nationwide Tour, too.

But in junior or high school golf, only Bobby Wyatt's 57 in the 2010 Alabama Boys State High School Golf Championship, where he made 12 birdies and an eagle on a par-71 layout, is better. What was amazing about Wyatt's feat at the Country Club of Mobile, was he hung another potential birdie on the lip at the 18th hole that would have been for a 56.

Weaver certainly is an up-and-comer in the junior and high school ranks. She is rated No. 21 in the country by the American Junior Golf Association, and has seven AJGA victories, including two this past summer. All totaled, she estimates her junior titles at "somewhere between 75 and 100'' since she began playing golf at age 2.

Plus, last summer after being picked to play in the Junior Solheim Cup in Ireland, Weaver made the winning putt from 6 feet on the last hole in the last match to help the USA Girls Team retain the cup over Europe, 12-12. Even though she's come up big several times now, Weaver, who moved from Ohio to Arizona when she was 11 to play more golf, is relatively under the radar in Arizona because she doesn't play high school golf for Cactus Shadows.

"I haven't played high school golf since I was a sophomore just because it's too time-consuming - you have to drive all over the Valley - and I need to focus on my academics,'' said Weaver, who is an honor student at Cactus Shadows with a 4.3 GPA.

Instead, she would sooner dedicate herself to practicing the game, which she does every day from 12:30 to 6 p.m. Asked if she had considered going to Arizona girls golf powerhouse Xavier College Preparatory, she shook her head: "It's just too far away from my home.''

Instead, she sticks close to home and does most of her practicing at Desert Mountain on the Renegade and Outlaw courses. Her father, Craig Weaver, serves as her instructor.

"Right now, I'm trying to get a little more distance off the tee with my driver by increasing my lag time. I hit it about 250 to 260 (yards off the tee), but I could use a little more (distance),'' said the 5-foot-2 Weaver, whose previous best was a 65 last summer in AJGA play.

"Putting is probably my strength, as I spend a lot of time with my own putting arc that my dad developed. It's helped me a lot, because you've got to be able to putt if you're going to score.''

So much so that she's become a "dream Weaver'' with the flat stick. And people are starting to notice, said John Souza, who heads up the PING Junior Interclub program, which features about 40 teams from various clubs and courses throughout the state that are made up from kids of all abilities in the 10- to 18-age range.

"That 59 was pretty special when you consider we have some talented kids that shoot, maybe 66 or 67, when they play their best,'' observed Souza, who founded the program in 2009.

"For instance, at that Desert Mountain tournament that Lindsey had the 59, the next-best score was 68, and the next-best score beyond that was a 73. So while we might have another girl who will shoot, say, 115, they have a tendency to look up to Lindsey and treat her like a role model, and deservedly so.''

The girl does have her head on straight it would seem. Like when you ask her about the future, Weaver readily admits that she wants to play the LPGA some day. But being a realist, she said she also wants to earn a business degree and get her Masters at Notre Dame "just in case.'' This from a brilliant kid who had other offers to go elsewhere, like big-time schools such as Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia, USC and Arizona.

"ASU? They sent me a letter, but it's too close to home,'' she said, laughing as she reversed her stance on what kept her out of Xavier. "But, truthfully, once I saw the amazing campus at Notre Dame - the most beautiful I've ever seen - I knew it was right for me.''

Yes, Lindsey Weaver gets it, which is why she only giggles when an observer reminds her that she is the only other female besides Sorenstam to shoot the 59, something she can wear proudly as her claim to fame through college and even the LPGA, if she goes that way.

"Yes, it is pretty neat,'' she said of the feat. "I've had a lot of great moments, fun moments playing golf.

"But to do something that Annika did, well, you never really forget something like that."

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