When folks ask D.A. Weibring what those initials are for, he says, "Don't Ask."
This evening, people were giving the same answer ("Don't Ask") when queried about who is leading the Tournament Players Championship after two rounds.
When you put up a $900,000 purse and invite the strongest field of the golfing year to play a course that's tougher than week-old alligator toenails, you really don't expect a face from the middle of the money list to rise to a two-shot lead with matching flawless 68s. D.A. Weibring has never won $162,000 in a season, let alone a week.
Yet there he is, two ahead of a Bernhard Langer shaken by a slow-play warning and Dan Halldorson; three in front of first-round leader Hale Irwin and Cal Peete.
The typical fan here was tempted to moan, "Oh, no. Who's D.A. Weibring? Get this guy outta here. Bring on Jack and Tom or Lee, Ben, Fuzzy and Seve or the Walrus and the Shark."
True, Donald Albert Weibring Jr. looks and plays like a fellow who probably never won anything but the Quad Cities Open. In fact, that is all he's won in nine years on the PGA Tour. And that was six seasons ago.
But, if you knew him better, you'd probably be a lot happier that he's having a moment in the sun and look forward with a lot less pleasure to the embarrassment likely to befall him in the tropical pressure cooker of the Tournament Players Club the next two days.
This guy is trying to win for Mom, who had a mild heart attack on Monday, and for Dad, who taught him the game and who died last year. Weibring has been inspired for two days because he has never before played with his boyhood hero Arnold Palmer; and, finally, he's trying to cap off a dramatic two-year comeback from a career-threatening injury.
D.A. Weibring is friendly, funny, sincere, hard-working and popular.
He's also got about as much chance of escaping the hordes behind him as a bunny rabbit has of hitchhiking through the slithery critters in the swamp grass 'round here. Maybe Weibring, who is 31 years old and finished higher than ninth only once last year, won't lose sleep contemplating Langer (70 -- 138) and Halldorson (68 today) in second place. However, Irwin (72) and Peete (69), who both think a crooked shot is one that deviates more than a club length from plumb, are lurking at 139.
Nobody lurks like a bear and who have we in seventh place at 141 (a shot behind Larry Rinker and level with Jodie Mudd), but his royal majesty Jack Nicklaus, the Bear who walked The Last Mile in birdie-par-birdie-birdie.
Weibring, who has made only one bogey in two days, is enjoying his hours of perfection.
"I'm very pleased, needless to say," said Weibring, who is most famous on Tour as Peter Jacobsen's straight man in their Comedy Clinic act. "You gotta bust through sometime . . . This week I changed both my putter and my putting technique and today I made a 35-footer for one birdie. It went under the windmill, around the duck and into the clown's mouth."
Usually, Weibring tends to try too hard. He's the kind who goes to mind meetings to straighten out his attitude when he's not out on the range trying to give his blisters blisters.
This week his circuits have been too overloaded for himself to cerebrate himself into calamity. First, his mother was taken to the hospital and he thought he might withdraw until doctors told him he couldn't be of any help and might just alarm her with an emergency visit.
"I talk to her on the phone," he says. "The family wants me to play."
Next, he hooked up with Palmer, with whom he had played only in exhibitions. "Absolutely my hero (as a child)," he said. "Once I was just leaning on my putter watching him hit in a parallel fairway and my partner had to come over and say, 'Hey, wake up. Let's go. You're playing in this tournament, too.' "
"When you play with the king, that gets you pumped more," said Weibring, who may have helped Palmer to a 74-72 showing that hit the cut score on the nose. (Seve Ballesteros, Lanny Wadkins and Andy Bean didn't make it. Neither did Morris Hatalsky, who was six under par and in second place after 27 holes, then took 45 on the back nine).
Weibring's showing ("Maybe these two rounds will pick my mom up") is the culmination of two years' work since repeated left-wrist injuries made him miss two months in 1983. "It's sweeter when you've been down," says Weibring, who won $110,325 last year, 65th best on the Tour.
Now, he'll see how his wrist, his swing, his new putter and his new stroke on the greens hold up under megapressure. "This (leading) is why you work and practice," he said. "If you get there and you're scared, maybe you shouldn't be here."
Weibring already had his first bout with the shakes when he left a six-foot birdie putt a foot short at the 17th. "The guys are already saying it looked like I was taking some gas," said Weibring, "but I think maybe the greens grew a little bit as the day went on."
Don't worry, D.A., not too many guys are getting it to the house with much distinction. Langer, who hits it like a gorilla off the tee and on the greens, too, got 10 strokes into the red with eight holes still to play this afternoon and it looked like time to turn on the blitz sirens. Then his putter started yipping and by his final hole of the day he was so discombobulated that he got a $500 fine for slow play.
Langer, who had started from the 10th tee, playing with Jim Nelford and Brett Upper, related, "I had bogeys at No. 3 and No. 4 and on the next hole, we were warned about playing too slowly. We were trying to speed up and play fast, but on No. 9 I was in the trees and then an official came out and said I was fined $500 for taking 91 seconds to hit. I'm going to protest about that because the public comes out to see good golf -- not to see us running down the fairway."
Langer's 31-39 progression isn't the kind you like to sleep upon. He was furious about the fine ("ticked me off") and said, "Every time I see an official tomorrow I'll think, 'Can I take another 12 seconds?' It will definitely affect my golf."
The man who may still have Weibring in his sights is Irwin. "Lotta golf left," said the first-round leader. "It's a pipe dream to think he'll make only one bogey the rest of the way. Heck, some of the bogeys you make here you feel good about.
"You can't watch the scoreboard while you're playing this course. You're just so damn busy out there trying to keep your head above water. Or, rather, keep it out of the water."
As much as any course anywhere, the Players Club giveth one day and taketh away the next, and vice versa. Phil Hancock took a 12 on the par-4 fourth hole on Thursday. This morning, he birdied it.
Hatalsky and Langer already have felt the TPC's capricious lash. Said Weibring at nightfall, "I just hope I'm within a shot or two of the lead going into the final nine on Sunday."
Spoken like a man with a two-shot lead. At least at the TPC.