Dream Weaver

By on July 15, 2015

 

Warwick grad Alli Weaver follows her putt while participating as a non-competitive marker at the U.S. Women’s Open last Saturday. (Photo by Blaine Shahan)

Warwick grad Alli Weaver follows her putt while participating as a non-competitive marker at the U.S. Women’s Open last Saturday. (Photo by Blaine Shahan)

Most times, Alli Weaver will keep score when she is playing golf.

Last Saturday and Sunday, however, didn’t qualify as routine days on the links.

The 2009 Warwick High School grad created some lifetime memories after being asked to play as a non-competitive marker at the 70th U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club.

Yes, her caddy ended up keeping her score on Saturday &tstr; a 12-over 82 &tstr; but Weaver made it a point not to do so on Sunday.

“Everybody I talked to was so worried about my score and it kinda took the fun out of it,” she said. “I didn’t go out there to shoot a score. I went out there to enjoy the round. I just wanted to be able to go out there and play and make good shots and see what I could do. I was there for the experience.”

And what an experience it was for Weaver.

This year’s U.S. Women’s Open set an attendance record with 134,016 spectators. Millions more watched Fox Sports coverage on TV.

Weaver was right in the middle of it.

“It was amazing,” she said. “Honestly, it was pretty shocking. But overall, it’s something I will never forget. You don’t think that you’ll ever get to play if you don’t qualify. That was a once in a lifetime to not qualify and be able to play the last two days of the Open.”

A former star golfer at Warwick &tstr; where she won the District Three girls crown in 2008 &tstr; and at Murray State University (Ky.), the 24-year-old Weaver fell a little bit short of qualifying at a USGA Tournament at Galloway National Golf Club (N.J.).

But she tried to keep a positive attitude.

After all, Weaver is interning in the pro shop at the Lancaster Country Club, so she was still going to have a front-row seat.

“The qualifier definitely wasn’t my best day of golf, but knowing that we got to work it,” Weaver said, “I didn’t really think a whole lot about it. But then getting to play, whether I was a marker or not, was just a phenomenal way to end the tournament.”

When play ended after the second round on Friday, only 63 of the 156 golfers made the cut. The uneven number meant that Haruka Morita-WanyaoLu, who is Chinese-Japanese, would be by herself teeing off on hole No. 1 on Saturday.

That’s where Weaver entered the picture.

She received a phone call at about 9 p.m. Friday night from LCC head golf pro Rick Gibson informing her that she might be needed as a marker, an amateur stand-in who keeps the pace and rhythm of a normal two-person round. Just before 5:45 a.m. on Saturday, Gibson texted saying it was a go.

“It was just exciting,” she said. “I was running on adrenaline for those two days.”

Following her round, Weaver was told that she’d be playing again on Championship Sunday.

“I actually slept better on Friday night than I did Saturday night,” she said. “I think my nerves were kicking in a little then, knowing that I would be in front of bigger crowds on Sunday morning.”

Her playing partner on Sunday was Elizabeth Nagel, who ended the day at even-par 70, finishing the tournament at 16-over.

While Morita-WanyaoLu and Nagel were both congenial, Weaver was able to interact a little more with Nagel, whose hometown is DeWitt, Mich.

“I wasn’t sure if (Morita-WanyaoLu) spoke a whole lot of English,” said Weaver, who plans to compete in an LPGA qualifying tournament in California in August. “Her caddy was really nice. I talked to him about a couple of things. They weren’t much of a conversation-type of people. They were there to play golf. Elizabeth Nagel went through LPGA qualifying school last year, so I talked to her about that. And she’s on a waiting list to get into tournaments, I kinda quizzed her on stuff like that &tstr; stuff that you’d want to know about and stuff that will be coming up for me and what to expect.”

Although Weaver didn’t keep score, she at least had a lot of shots that she liked.

“I think I hit the ball a little better with my irons on Saturday, but I definitely hit my driver better on Sunday,” she said. “So it kinda evens out. I played well both days.”

Considering the throng of spectators that she was playing in front of during Sunday’s final round, that was saying something. The crowd included a lot of Lancaster Country Club members that she knows from working there, not to mention a lot of people with whom she graduated from Warwick.

“Everyone cheering you on and hoping for you to do the best you can is just such a cool experience,” Weaver said. “It’s just such a great feeling.”

Admittedly, her nerves were a little bit worse for Sunday’s round.

“Not that I didn’t enjoy Sunday, but I think I enjoyed Saturday a little more just because it was new,” Weaver said. “It was a brand-new experience. I was out there in front of people. Sunday was fun, but my nerves were a little worse because it was bigger crowds and more members. A lot of people.”

As she pursues her golf career going forward, the roar of the crowd is the one thing she will remember most from this U.S. Open.

“You hear it on TV, but to hear somebody make a putt or hit a good shot or get a hole in one, the crowd roaring is the coolest sound I’ve ever heard in my entire life,” she said. “Oh my gosh, it was amazing.”

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