Club pro Ken Weyand no doubt fulfilled a long-time ambition to tee it up at a professional Tour event when he stepped out onto the course at Dubai Creek Resort this week. And the 54-year-old may well have enjoyed a wonderful time doing so.
Weyand is the general manager at The Grove XXII club in Florida, the golf club that NBA legend Michael Jordan founded in 2019. The American received one of two sponsor’s invites to the event – alongside former winning Team Europe Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn – and was able to take home a little more than 7,000 euros (nearly $8,000) as a bonus in the limited-field, no-cut tournament.
But compared to the 59 other players he was up against, Weyand’s final score was quite shocking. Some 72 shots behind Tommy Fleetwood’s winning tally of 265 and 39 strokes adrift of Sweden’s Jens Dantorp in 59th, Weyand finished the week on 53-over having taken 337 strokes to make it through the four rounds.
After an opening 16-over-par round of 87, which featured seven bogeys, three doubles and a triple, Weyand improved in round two by five strokes, carding an 82 and managing a birdie to sit at 27-over-par. Yet, even by that point, he was still 37 strokes back of then leader McIlroy and 17 shots behind second-last in the field.
Another round of 82 on Saturday, which once again featured a birdie, did nothing to alter his position in the standings. However, Weyand could have scored in the 70s if not for a disastrous final hole in which he was forced to write down an eight on the par-4. The week was completed by a final round of 86, which pushed his score another 15 shots away from par in the wrong direction.
While it’s tough to know whether Weyand – who is also a business partner of Michael Jordan’s and is involved in Black Cat Ventures, a golf technology fund – performed above or below his usual standards, it was clear that some quarters of the golfing world did not enjoy his appearance either way. DP World Tour pro Eddie Pepperell insisted on X “it shouldn’t happen” when referring to Weyand’s invitation to the limited-field event, and his caddie Jamie Herbert called it “a waste of an entry.”
Limited man field, and old Ken Weyand gets an invite and then does this. I don’t care if he’s Ken from Barbie, it shouldn’t happen.January 11, 2024
Pepperell said: “Limited man field, and old Ken Weyand gets an invite and then does this. I don’t care if he’s Ken from Barbie, it shouldn’t happen.” Meanwhile, Herbert said: “So, I know how important sponsors are, and it’s their prerogative who they invite, but a limited 60 man field 2.5 million dollars, no cut. This is a waste of an entry and I feel for the playing partners.”
It was not all doom and gloom around Weyand, though, with Englishman Richard Mansell – who played with the American on Thursday – stating that he was “a great guy” after pointing out to Herbert that the event would not take place without the aid of sponsors in the first place.
Unfortunately without the sponsors this event doesn’t happen. Whoever puts up the money has the final say. I played with Ken today. Great guy and invited me to MJ’s gaff 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 #winnerJanuary 11, 2024
Mansell said: “Unfortunately, without the sponsors, this event doesn’t happen. Whoever puts up the money has the final say. I played with Ken today. Great guy and invited me to MJ’s gaff #winner.”
The Dubai Invitational – having taken place for the first time this year – is set to be a bi-annual event, so it could be a couple of years before we see Ken out on the course once again.