‘Don’t care if he’s Ken from Barbie’: Pro is hot after sponsor invite fires 87

Eddie Pepperell, Jamie Herbert

Eddie Pepperell and caddie Jamie Herbert last October during the Qatar Masters.

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Ken Weyand, his playing partner says, was wonderful. Richard Mansell said he even received a gift from the director of golf at the Grove XXIII, Michael Jordan’s ritzy Florida joint. 

“Great guy and invited me to MJ’s gaff #winner,” he tweeted.

One longtime pro and his caddie, though, had other thoughts — specifically over why Weyand was playing the Dubai Invitational.

This week, the tournament kicks off the DP World Tour’s year, and after Thursday’s first round, Rory McIlroy leads with a nine-under 62. But scroll your eyes down, and you’ll find Weyand, who had seven bogeys, three double bogeys and one triple bogey on his way to a 16-over 87, 10 shots worse than anyone else. 

Therein is part of the beef of Eddie Pepperell and his caddie, Jamie Herbert. 

Weyand, listed as 54 years old on the DP World Tour’s website, is playing as one of two sponsor’s invites in the 60-player, no-cut invitational. (Longtime pro Thomas Bjorn is the other.) The move is allowed — sponsor’s can ask whomever. 

But Pepperell and Herbert tweeted that the invite should have gone elsewhere, especially considering the size of the field. Their tweets started after @vc606, an account that frequently shares posts on the world rankings, wrote this:

“Unfortunately for Ken, the latest #OWGR changes have been introduced just in time to prevent him getting any world ranking points… #DubaiInvitational”

To which Pepperell, who is not in the field, replied two hours later:

“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.”

Then, at exactly the same time, Herbert screen-shot Weyand’s online scorecard from the DP World Tour’s online leaderboard and tweeted this:

“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.”

Each post received a handful of comments. And Mansell, who shot a 70, responded to one. 

“Unfortunately without the sponsors this event doesn’t happen,” he wrote. “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 tournament runs through Sunday. Weyand and Mansell tee off at 9:47 a.m. local time (12:47 a.m. ET) on Friday for the second round. 

Notably, the subject of sponsor exemptions was a topic this week on the PGA Tour, though in a lighter vein.  

In his pre-tournament press conference at the Sony Open, Brian Harman said he had been paired with an invite at the tournament a dozen years ago. Harman can tell the rest. 

“Yeah, I have a funny anecdote from that week,” he said. “Playing with Matt Every, one of the funniest guys. There is always a couple sponsor exemptions, so we’re playing with this kid, and Matt and I, he’s very nervous and there are photographers all over the place. He dribbled a couple off the tee boxes, and Matt and I made the comment: Don’t think this kid’s got it. Don’t think this guy is gonna make it.

“[It’s] Hideki Matsuyama.”

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Did the 2021 Masters winner eventually ‘make’ it, a reporter jokingly asked. 

“Yeah, so Matt and I would joke about that,” Harman said. “Yeah, we missed on that one.”

The back and forth continued. 

“He really did top the shot?”

“He was probably like 16, 17 years old,” Harman said. “I’m whatever, 22, 23, 24, however old I was. He’s like nervous beyond all belief. Missed the cut. Didn’t play good at all.”

“Ever bring it up to him?”

“I don’t think I’ve ever talked to Hideki about it,” Harman said. “Matt and I talk about it all the time. Win some, you lose some.”

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