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January 17 2013

6:26 PM

Healthy Weir opens with 67

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Mike Weir hopes he has finally turned the corner. And Thursday's 67 in the first round of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation was certainly a step in the right direction.

The round of 5 under was Weir's lowest since he shot 68 to open the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -- a span of 25 events. The Canadian, who didn't make a cut in any of the 14 tournaments he played in 2012, has only recently begun to feel completely healthy after tearing a ligament in his right elbow.

"I would say (I'm) 90 percent," Weir reported. "So I'm almost there."

The futility of the last two years has been tough to swallow for the eight-time PGA TOUR champ. After all, this is the man who won the 2003 Masters Tournament and was a regular contender wherever he played. 

"It's tough to play poorly when you know that you can still compete and that," Weir said. "But it just shows you, you can't compete 50 percent out here, especially a player of my length. I have to be more of a precision player and when you're playing 50 percent, you just, it's nearly impossible. So I tried to do it, but I'm glad that I'm over that hump and ready to play some good golf now."

The avid skier, who lives in Sandy, Utah, has kept his full attention on golf during the offseason. In fact, Weir has been so focused he hasn't hit the slopes once.

"And it's right in my backyard, so that just tells you," he said. "I went to Hawaii almost two weeks before the Sony Open to just keep working and keep practicing. And so I had some mixed results there, played okay, shot even par. But this was a much better start, so hopefully I can keep building on it."

A better start, indeed. Weir, who won the Humana Challenge in 2003, hit 12 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens in regulation. One of the things that pleased him the most, though, was the way he stayed in the moment and concentrated on the shot at hand.

"I made one bad swing today, hit it in the water on the third hole, the par 3, I over cut one," Weir said. "But I was able to hit a nice wedge in there and save bogey.  And those were the kind of things that, if you're in that mindset, you can do. If you're not, you're going to make a triple bogey. So really the mindset is kind of my goal this year, really."

Weir is using his top-25 career money exemption to play this season. So unlike in the past two years when he was on two different medical exemptions and played on past champion status, the veteran can now plan his schedule -- and playing regularly will be a big boost.

"That was a lot of uncertainty last year, not knowing when I was going to play," Weir said. "I would play a week, be off a month. Play two weeks, be off another month.  Things like that. So it was tough to get any flow and rhythm to the season at all. So this year I'm going play a lot and looking forward to playing a lot."

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