For various reasons, Doug Weiss and his “drive for five” stalled out before it could start this season.
With the Regions Bank Amateur Series season already past its mid-point, the Evans golfer concedes he won’t be making a run at a record-extending fifth consecutive player of the year title.
A perfect storm of sorts has limited Weiss to one event of the five so far this season – he tied for ninth place in the season-opener at Mount Vintage. There are four events left this season.
Work issues, an injured finger and the desire to spend more time with his girlfriend and her children have left Weiss out of the Regions loop this year.
“A lot of it has been work-related,” said Weiss, who travels during the week as the vice president of sales for Aurora Networks, a telecommunications company.
“Work has been really busy; that takes precedence over golf,” said Weiss in a telephone interview from Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon.
Weiss travels to an average of three cities during the week. Since Jan. 1, he’s been on 124 flights.
He even had to miss June’s Regions event at Persimmon Hill, where he was the two-time defending champion, because of work.
“I left that Sunday morning and went to Boston, Philadelphia, South Bend, Atlanta and then home that week,” Weiss said. “That’s a typical week.”
Weiss knew in January – four months before the Regions season started – that he probably wouldn’t be able to try for a fifth consecutive player of the year title.
In addition to added travel that would limit his practice, he was bothered by an injured right ring finger at the time, which made it painful to play. It healed two months ago.
“I could play in them, but I want to compete,” Weiss said. “I don’t want to feel like I’m just an entry fee.”
With the emergence of North Augusta’s Jeff Pope as a star on the circuit at the end of last season, it looked like this season was shaping up to be a battle for player of the year between Pope and Weiss.
Pope, who has had little competition this year, said he wishes Weiss had played more this year.
In four starts this season, Pope has won twice and finished as a runner-up in the other two. He has 250 points – 114 more than second-place David Hogan.
“It’s always a good battle; we go back a long way competitively,” Weiss said of Pope. “I enjoy playing with Jeff. He’s a nice guy and fun to play with.”
It’s not just the anticipated battle with Pope that Weiss misses.
“I miss the competition; the competition is great,” Weiss said. “The friendships are great and they’re fun tournaments.”
Since 2008, when he won his first player of the year award, Weiss has won seven events. He also won twice in 2007.
His total of nine ties him for second place on the all-time list, three behind Jay Blackburn.
Just last year, Weiss won three of the seven events in which he played.
Weiss’ streak of player of the year titles will end at four, but he already had the record for most titles in a row in the regular division. In fact, he’s won it twice as many times as anyone else in the series, which started in 1988.
Only three players – Vaughn Taylor (1995, 1996), Mitch Marchman (1999-2000) and Blackburn (2001-2002) – even won it twice in a row.
Weiss does hope to play in the Augusta City Amateur, which starts July 20 at Forest Hills Golf Club and the season-ending event in late August at Gordon Lakes.
He’s not expecting to make the six-man Georgia Regions team for the season-ending Regions Matches against South Carolina.
The teams are determined by points earned for top-20 finishes in the tournaments, and Weiss has played in six of the past seven matches. As the player of the year, he’s been the Georgia captain the past four years.
“I’m not even trying to make the team at all,” said Weiss, who has never lost a singles match, though he did halve his match with Pope last year.
Weiss said he hopes to return to a regular Regions schedule next year.
“I always hope to,” he said. “You never know.”