Kyle Weldon recently returned the Jim Tom Blair Trophy that the winner of the Metropolitan Amateur Championship keeps until the next tournament. His name is etched on there twice.
Weldon, who will be a senior at Kansas State this fall, has a chance at history when the 24th annual tournament gets underway at Westwood Country Club.
The Parkway South graduate is one of only three men who have won the region’s top amateur championship back to back. Now he aims for three in a row.
“I don’t think I feel pressure much at all,” Weldon said. “It’s more exciting to me to have a chance to become the first time three in a row champ. As far as having a bulls-eye on my back, everyone in the field besides Skip (Berkmeyer) and a couple of other guys, the rest are thinking they may not have a chance to beat me. You never know.
“I take a lot of confidence into this week. If I play my best golf, there aren’t many guys who can beat me.”
Having hosted the regions most significant amateur title twelve years ago, Westwood is poised to welcome the areas top amateurs to compete for the Jim Tom Blair Trophy. Mike Sabo captured the last championship in 2002 at Westwood.
A very strong field of 150 players, play will begin on Thursday (July 31) at 7:30 a.m. from both the 1st and 10th teeing grounds. The full field will play over Rounds 1 and 2 before a cut to the low 40 scores and ties will be implemented for the final round on Saturday.
Westwood is excited to host the area’s most significant amateur championship. General Manager Tony D’Errico said: “We are thrilled to have championship golf returning to Westwood Country Club and we are honored to be hosting this event for the MAGA.”
Weldon captured his second consecutive Amateur title in 2013 at Persimmon Woods Golf Club. Weldon became the second player in history to capture back-to-back title, joining David Estes who accomplished the feat in 1997-98.
That was a special win for Weldon. He wore one his Parkway South golf shirts from his senior year. Persimmon Woods was the site of Parkway South’s district championship in late April 2011. Beating CBC for his the seventh district title, Patriots coach Mark Wade died a couple of days later of a heart attack. Wade was 59.
“That was a big day for me,” Weldon said. “That was the place the last time I got to play for coach Wade. I’ll never forgot that. Both wins were special. I still look back at that first one as being real special. That was kind of my first real big, big tournament win.
“I think that with that first win in 2012, I started to realize that I could do something — that I was a great player and I could win big tournaments compete at the highest level.”
Weldon, coming off qualifying for his second trip to play in the U.S. Amateur recently, is happy with his game.
“I feel like I’m playing some of my best golf right now,” Weldon said. “This summer has just been … I think honestly that I’ve only played one bad round. That was in the second round of the Public Links when I shot a 79. I haven’t had a score over 75 otherwise. This was been my best summer. It’s been an awesome summer and I’ve got nothing to complain about.”
Weldon, of Des Peres, just finished in a tie for fourth in the rain-shortened Trans-Mississippi Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. Weldon shot a 1-under 139.
“That’s one of the biggest tournaments I’ve played in,” Weldon said. “With the exception of the U.S. Amateur and some Big 12 tournaments, that field was even stronger. There were so many good players and field was so deep. I’m happy to come out of it with a top-5 finish. It’s one of those moments where you’re competing with the best players and you’re playing right there with them. I was right there in the hunt with all the big boys.”
Weldon has not played at Westwood since he “was probably 10” until he played practice rounds.
“I’m looking forward to the tournament,” Weldon said. “I know it’s a great golf course.”
Weldon will play the first two rounds with Steven Souchek and Joe Migdal, all of which have qualified for USGA championships this season.
“They’re both friends of mine,” Weldon said. “It’s always fun to play with guys like that. They are at my skill level. We can feed off each other and make some birdies and put up some red numbers.”
Migdal, of Ballwin, recently qualified for the U.S. Amateur like Weldon. He is looking forward to playing with.
“Kyle and I are real good buddies. Playing in the Metro Amateur will be a lot of fun,” Migdal said. “I would like to get my name on that trophy. I’m in second in Player of the Year points. Skip is first.
If any of us wins this, we will be the Player of the Year.
“I’m excited to play. I’ve played Westwood a lot. I’m familiar with the golf course.”
Two other past champions are in the field at Westwood, Skip Berkmeyer (2009) and Tom Barry (1996). Berkmeyer has a slight edge in the 2014 Player of the Year Points race heading into the championship over
Migdal and Phil Caravia. Berkmeyer will be grouped with Caravia and Ted Moloney in Rounds 1 and 2.
To get that third win in a row, Weldon said has to play like he has this golf season.
“I think if I keep executing like I have all summer and stick to my game plan, I don’t see any reason why I can’t be in the hunt coming down the last the last nine holes,” Weldon said.