WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) — Boo Weekley’s bum shoulder is improving and the self-proclaimed redneck has put down the fishing pole, hoping it might lead to a win at a tournament not named the Heritage.
Weekley equaled his best round of the year with a 7-under 63 on Friday on the Old White course to vault into second place, four strokes behind leader Jeff Overton, midway through the inaugural Greenbrier Classic.
Weekley hit 17 greens in regulation and had seven birdies during a bogey-free morning round for a two-day total of 10 under.
“I’m excited to play again,” Weekley said. “Feels like I can actually come out and compete and don’t have to take a bunch of (pain relievers) or nothing where I can play.”
The Greenbrier’s policy of jackets required for its finer restaurants and $80 million underground casino might not suit Weekley’s folksy lifestyle, but the Southerner admits feeling at home among the local fans, who consider him one of their own.
Weekley remembers fans rallying behind him when he played in several Nationwide Tour events in Bridgeport about 3 hours to the north, although he feels West Virginia owes him one after he lost in a playoff in 2006.
“It would be nice if my stars line up,” he said.
The avid fisherman and hunter no longer packs the tackle box along with his clubs. Trout-stocked Howard’s Creek runs throughout The Greenbrier, including in front of the first and 18th tees, but Weekley isn’t giving in to the temptation.
“I put all my stuff up when I come to tournaments now,” Weekley said. “I just mostly focus on golf and do my job and be done with it.”
Weekley couldn’t focus much after tearing a labrum in his left shoulder last year at the TPC Sawgrass. He stopped playing for more than a month and was left with a limited range of motion.
“It’s been kind of aggravated like a thorn in me,” he said. “Just feel like you can’t take it back some days, and some days don’t feel like I can come through the ball.”
Weekley was a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team that beat Europe in 2008 but was ranked No. 172 in the world this week with only three top 10s in the last two years. His only two tour wins were at the 2007 and 2008 Heritage.
After the injury he lost 20 pounds and started feeling better about his game only three weeks ago at the John Deere Classic, when he finished 21st.
He said his shoulder is to the point “where I feel like I can actually swing the club and not have the hesitation at it.”
Old White’s length and lack of deep rough have led to an assault on the pins, and rains that softened the greens earlier in the week have made solid scoring even more possible.
Overton’s 8-under 62 was the low round of the tournament and his best of the year.
He used wedges on all but one approach shot during a bogey-free round to finish two rounds at 14 under.
“I don’t really know the last time I was playing with this much confidence,” said Overton, who’s winless in five years on the PGA Tour. “I’m just kind of getting used to the whole PGA Tour lifestyle.”
The 27-year-old Overton, a former Big Ten player of the year at Indiana, needed just 26 putts in his best round of the year. He topped his previous low of 7-under 63 at the Colonial.
Starting on the back nine, Overton came to the par-4 seventh needing to close with three birdies for a 59. His approach from 85 yards landed 18 feet from the pin and he slid his putt to the right. He finished with three straight pars but wasn’t disappointed.
The Bloomington, Ind., resident is having his best season with four top five finishes, including three in his last six events. Overton finished second by two strokes each at the Zurich Classic and the Byron Nelson Championship.
Overton is 12th in FedEx Cup points and could vault to No. 2 with a win, depending on the finishes of two players higher than him in the field, Jim Furyk at No. 5 and Matt Kuchar at No. 7.
“Obviously I’d take a win over a second any day of the week – over 100 seconds,” Overton said. “You never know when it’s your time.”
Furyk was 7 under in the Greenbrier Classic and Kuchar was 2 under.
Jimmy Walker (64) and double heart transplant recipient Erik Compton (68) were tied for third place at 9 under. Compton, the first-round co-leader, is playing on a sponsor’s exemption.
Walker was poised to overtake Weekley but had two late bogeys.
Aaron Baddeley (65), Briny Baird (65), Chris Stroud (63) and Charles Howell III (67) were six strokes back at 5 under.
Compton couldn’t grind out the birdies that dominated his first round, when he tied Matt Every for the lead at 7 under.
Still, Compton, looking to solidify a future either on the PGA Tour or the Nationwide circuit, put himself in good position for the weekend. His highest finish is 30th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“I was just frustrated because three birdies out here is not acceptable,” Compton said. “I need to be a little better keeping it below the hole.”
Every made double bogey at the par-5 17th, shot 72 and was nine strokes back.
Carl Pettersson, last week’s Canadian Open winner who barely made the cut in that tournament, shot 64 Friday and was at 5 under, three strokes above the cut line.