Drew Weaver admits he doesn't think about April 16, 2007, every day. He still was a student at Virginia Tech when Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people on the campus that day.
But it's not something he or anyone else who was in Blacksburg can forget.
"It'll always be with me and it'll always be with everybody," Weaver said last week. "There's certainly memories of that day; it's one of those things that I've definitely grown from."
Weaver called it a better sense of perspective. A successful college golfer who won the British Amateur in June 2007, Weaver hasn't enjoyed a charmed trip since. In 10 events on the PGA Tour, he has missed the cut seven times.
But Weaver, who will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open on Monday at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, is using what he calls the "perspective" gained from that harrowing day, his time at Virginia Tech and his career since that victory in Britain to stay on an even keel.
"Everyone's great when they're up. It's the downs that really define you as a person," Weaver said. "In order to bounce back from those down times, you need perspective. ... You got to learn not to get too worked up about one shot or one day."
Weaver will have just one day to be one of the 10 best golfers among the 112 attempting to qualify for next week's U.S. Open, which will be played at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda. It's another chance for Weaver to take a significant step in his professional career, one that has taken time to get churning.
"It's a marathon on Monday. It's going to be a little bit of a challenge," Weaver said, referring to the 36-hole setup for sectional qualifying. "I'm just working on getting the ball on the fairway and limiting my mistakes. If I can play very smart, that will benefit me."
He shot par 288 in the Memorial over the weekend to make the cut. His 71-70 Thursday-Friday in particular provides further evidence of Weaver's confidence - as the 24-year-old said his game is on the right track.
Weaver has enjoyed some success on the eGolf Professional Tour, college coach Jay Hardwick pointed out, and any future victories will hardly come as a surprise given his work ethic.
"I think he's doing the right things. He's working hard; he's diligent," Hardwick said. "You got to slow him down sometimes because he's working too hard."
But Weaver knows not to work too hard - and not to stress about struggling early in his career. In 2007, he became the first American to win the British Amateur in 28 years but proceeded to miss cuts in the British Open, the Masters, the AT&T National at Congressional and the Wyndham Championship.
Instead of basking in his performance at the British Amateur, Weaver stepped back and analyzed his game.
"My game's matured a lot and my body has matured physically a lot," he said. "I think my game was good in '07, but there was certainly areas where I needed to improve."
Hardwick said that 2007 victory changed his former player's life and "hit his career up a notch." But the coach wasn't concerned when Weaver didn't immediately follow it up with a string of wins.
"I don't worry about kids not making cuts when they're college players," Hardwick said. "That's when you learn."
Out of school now and some time removed from not making it through the PGA's Q School to earn a tour card, Weaver isn't done learning. He called his career so far a "great ride" and seems to be enjoying every step along the way - even if his game hasn't come as easily as it did four years ago.
But there's little doubt in Hardwick's mind that success is around the corner.
"He's a smart young man and he knows what it takes," Hardwick said. "Give him the time, and he'll make it."
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