Weekley's wild ride ends at Verizon Heritage

Lonna Tucker/We-Ko-Pa Golf Club

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Boo Weekley kissed his cap and waved goodbye to the fans at Harbour Town Golf Links, his two year run as Verizon Heritage champion over.

``I just hate that I didn't get to win again,'' Weekley said Sunday.

In the past two years, Boo Weekley has risen from a struggling, little-known pro with the funny name to one of the sport's most engaging characters.

And Weekley understands that it might not have been possible without his two victories at Harbour Town.

``I wouldn't say it's all here, a lot of it's got to do with the Ryder Cup,'' Weekley said. ``But this was a good place to start at.''

Weekley came to Sea Pines Resort in 2007 only weeks after a heartbreaking finish at the Honda Classic that some worried might derail his stay on the PGA Tour.

He missed a 3-foot putt on the 72nd hole that would've won that tournament, then lost in a playoff.

But then Weekley's legend took off at Harbour Town. Again faced with a fading final-round lead and tour star Ernie Els in pursuit, Weekley chipped in on the 71st and 72nd hole to win.

Weekley backed up that victory by repeating in 2008 and played his way on Paul Azinger's Ryder Cup team last September. There a national golf audience took to Boo's down-home, folksy style; his ``ain'ts'' and ``shoots'' and passion for hunting and fishing; and his fun-loving, ride on his driver after one tee shot.

He had hoped to contend for a third straight title here, but a balky back - ``I just slept on it wrong,'' he said - and a so-so putter never got him in the running. He had his best round of the tournament, a 68, on Sunday.

``I'm still the champ. They can't take that from me,'' he said. ``I just ain't this year's champ.''

Weekley was treated like a winner, even when it was apparent he wouldn't prevail. Fans chanted his name, and cheered each shot as if he were born and raised on the island. Weekley's mother, Patsy, wrote a daily diary for the local paper and thanked the locals for their appreciation of her son.

``They're laid back, I'm laid back,'' he said. ``They like to goof off and holler and hoot like I do, so it's easy.''

He admitted his walk up Harbour Town's famed No. 18 lighthouse hole, while less stressful, was more remorseful. He expressed a liking to the tournament's plaid jacket given its champion.

``I might even get me a kilt made out of it,'' he joked.

Weekley hasn't gotten off to the start he wanted this season. He had only one round in the 60s in his previous five events before Harbour Town. His lone top 10 came back in January, a tie for ninth at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Still, Weekley liked the way he hit the ball this week and thinks he'll hold another trophy aloft soon. ``Sooner or later, I'm going to get there,'' he said. ``I get that putter hot, the rest of it's going to take care of itself.''

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