Michael Weaver is at peace with it now.
But for a month following Weaver's late collapse in the U.S. Amateur final last summer, the Cal golfer and Clovis West High graduate couldn't bear reliving the experience.
Weaver seemed on his way to winning the U.S. Amateur last August, up two holes with two to play, and needed to sink just a 5-foot putt for par on the 36th hole to win the title.
But his putt lipped out and forced Weaver into a playoff. And one hole into extra play, Weaver lost and had to settle for runner-up in the biggest tournament of his life. A disappointed Weaver repeatedly struck his golf bag in frustration afterward.
"It was kind of painful and the experience stuck with me for a while," said Weaver, who will make a rare tournament appearance back in town, with Cal participating in Fresno State's 50th annual Lexus Classic today and Tuesday at the Belmont Country Club.
"A lot of people just wanted to tell me that they saw me on TV," Weaver added. "They weren't trying to be mean. They were trying to be encouraging. But every time someone brought it up, I was forced to relive the moment, think about how I let it slip away.
"And it happened right before school and some of my friends hadn't seen me since before the summer. It seemed like that's all they wanted to talk about. Every time, it brought me back to that day."
In time, Weaver learned to look back at the U.S. Amateur as a learning experience and began building confidence from it.
Rather than focusing on the ending, Weaver likes to recount the entire U.S. Amateur experience -- playing before a gallery of 5,000 people, competing on national TV and learning how to pick himself back up after feeling down for weeks.
"You can't just dwell on the finish," Weaver said. "It took me a while, but I kind of accepted it. I still finished runner-up. I got a lot of exposure. It's helped me become a better golfer."
The best rewards of Weaver's runner-up finish still await as Weaver received an invite to The Masters in April on the famed golf course in Augusta, Ga.
Then in June, Weaver will get to compete in the U.S. Open just outside of Philadelphia.
Weaver said he feels more focused on the golf course now and plays with more confidence.
"I've learned to try to improve with each experience," Weaver said. "Sometimes you do learn more when you lose than when you win."
So it would seem.
In Cal's first tournament of the spring, Weaver tied for 39th in the Arizona Collegiate in Tucson, Ariz. in January. Then a week ago, Weaver finished third in the John Burns Intercollegiate at the Turtle Bay Resort in Hawaii.
Weaver hopes that his previous experiences playing on the Belmont Country Club course helps him finish as the top individual over these next two days. Belmont Country Club might be the course Weaver spent the least amount of time playing on among local venues. But Weaver said he still remains familiar with the layout and is playing with confidence coming into the two-day tournament.
Other teams besides Fresno State and Cal in the Lexus Classic are: Arizona, Brigham Young, Cal Poly, Colorado State, Hawaii, UC Irvine, Kansas State, Nevada, Northwestern, Oregon, Oregon State, Pacific, Sacramento State, UC Santa Barbara and Utah.
"I always enjoy coming back here," Weaver said. "It's going to be fun."
50th ANNUAL FRESNO STATE LEXUS CLASSIC
Monday-Tuesday at Belmont Country Club; 17 teams, 54 holes
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