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."
This cut will go deeper than most for Mike Weir.
For the 11th straight start, the Canadian failed to make it to the weekend -- this time at the RBC Canadian Open.
“I don't know,” Weir said when asked to put his second straight 2-over 72 into perspective. “I need a little time to think about it, and see what I can draw on it and see what we can get ready for next week.”
Pat Fletcher, who was born in England, was the last Canadian to win this event. Carl Keffer is the only Canadian-born champion, winning in 1909 and 1914.
Weir, who has yet to make a cut this season, has failed to break par in his last seven rounds on the PGA TOUR. He has struggled since tearing a ligament in his elbow in 2010.
Other Canadians were more fortunate this week. David Hearn, Matt McQuillan, Albin Choi, Matt Hill and Graham DeLaet all advanced to the weekend.
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods didn’t need it, but Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Steve Stricker, Luke Donald and amateur Patrick Cantlay – to name a few – did.
What was it? The 10-shot rule.
After two rounds, the Masters cuts to the low 44 players and ties and anyone within 10 shots of the lead. That meant Woods slid in on his own (147, T-40) while the others needed those two shots of grace to make the cut at 5-over 149.
Sixty three players in all made the cut.
Stricker and Bradley shot 77s, but eased in at 4-over 148 along with Fowler and Donald. Cantlay shot 78, but made it at 149.
Who didn’t make it? Among others, former Masters champions Mike Weir, Jose Maria Olazabal, Larry Mize and Tom Watson (151) , Bernhard Langer and Rory Sabbatini, who both shot 80s Friday and finished at 152, Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa (153) and Darren Clarke, who shot 81 and finished at 154.
The tee times for the first round of this week’s The Honda Classic have been released. CLICK HERE for the tee times. Use the space below to comment about the pairings at PGA National.
Here’s a look at some of the notable groups in the first two rounds:
Jim Furyk/Y.E. Yang/Henrik Stenson
Yang has owned PGA National in recent years, with a win and a second-place finish.
Kyle Stanley/Keegan Bradley/Rory McIlroy
Three of the best players in the world under the age of 30, and all three bomb the ball.
Mark Wilson/Rory Sabbatini/Camilo Villegas
These three players won at PGA National in 2007, 2011 and 2010, respectively. Villegas and Wilson squared off in a four-man playoff (with Boo Weekley and Jose Conceres) on a steamy Monday in 2007, which Wilson won.
Lee Westwood/Ian Poulter/Tiger Woods
No introduction needed for this trio. Tiger makes his first start at PGA National. This is the third consecutive year Westwood has teed if up here. Tied for ninth in 2010.
John Huh/Charl Schwartzel/Ernie Els
The PGA TOUR's newest winner (Huh) immediately graduates to an A-list tee time with a pair of major champions.
Anthony Kim/Mike Weir/Mark Calcavecchia
Can Kim and Weir get their games turned around at the start of the Florida Swing? And don't count out Calcavecchia, who has lived in Palm Beach for many years. He tied for fourth here in 2008.
Now, it’s your turn: Which groups are you most interested in following this week?
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Mike Weir, who has been sidelined since elbow surgery last August, is planning to make his 2012 season debut at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he announced on his website earlier this week.
“I think that’s a realistic target but I probably won’t know for sure until a week or 10 days before I have to commit,” Weir said in a blog post. “I’m very anxious to get back out there, which makes all this waiting tough.”
Weir, who lost his PGA TOUR card after finishing outside the top 125 on the money list and failing to earn it through a major medical exemption, has received a sponsor’s exemption into the event. Only recently, however, has Weir been cleared to play full rounds.
“I had considered playing in the Abu Dhabi and Qatar, but it was just a long way to go to test things out,” said Weir, who joined the European Tour in the offseason through an exemption he retained from winning the 2003 Masters. “Of course it would also be nice to play well at the start of the PGA TOUR and then be able to choose when and where I tee it up.”
Last year, Weir made just two cuts in 15 starts on TOUR. His low point came last July at the RBC Canadian Open, where he withdrew after just six holes. Weir made just three starts the rest of the year.
Also expected at Pebble Beach is Ian Poulter.
“I will be playing at the AT&T Pebble Beach Proam this year for the first time,” Poulter tweeted Friday. “Very much looking forward it. Game is really coming on.”
Poulter and his wife Katie are expecting the couple’s fourth child in about a week.
Mike Weir hopes to return to the PGA TOUR at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am next year.
"I'm not sure if I'll make that deadline, but I'm going to shoot for that right now," Weir, who had elbow surgery in August, wrote in the blog on his website.
Weir said he's targeting Pebble Beach because he has a comfort zone there after posting seven top-10s, including two seconds and a pair of thirds, in 14 starts. He also said that the turf there would likely be soft at that time of year.
Weir has recently begun hitting wedge and pitch shots -- all off a tee.
"At first, I was swinging at about 50 percent of normal, but I have gradually moved that up to 75 percent," Weir wrote. "And in the last few sessions, I even hit four or five drivers. They all felt really good."
Due to doctor's orders, though, Weir said he will wait until the four-month mark before hitting any full shots. "It can be a bit frustrating but I know patience now will pay off down the road," the former Masters champ wrote.
Weir said he has noticed he has more grip strength than he did before the surgery.
"I can really feel my fingers on the club these days and that's something that was missing the last few years," Weir wrote. "t's one of those gradual thing that's so subtle I guess I never really noticed it, but since the surgery, it's evident how much I'd lost over time and how much I have back."
Weir, who has battled the injury to his right elbow for two
years, finished outside the all-exempt top 125 on the money list in
2011. He does have some status as a past champion due to his eight
TOUR victories, and he would be eligible for sponsor's exemptions,
Weir also wrote that he recently discovered the European Tour offers a 12-year exemption to major champions. So Weir, who won the 2003 Masters, paid his dues and -- while he said he wants to play most of his golf in North America -- "I'll likely use that to fill in when I'm unable to play over here," he wrote.
Mike Weir, the eight-time PGA TOUR winner who has battled elbow problems for the last year, will miss the next 3-6 months after undergoing surgery on his right elbow Thursday.
The news was posted on Weir’s official website.
Weir was forced to withdraw from this year’s RBC Canadian Open during the second round because of the recurring problem that was diagnosed last year as a partial ligament tear in his right elbow. The surgery on Thursday was to repair the extensor tendon in his elbow and was performed in Pensacola, Fla. by sports orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.
Doctors expect a full recovery.
“My elbow has caused me problems over the past year and during the RBC Canadian Open it essentially became unplayable," Weir said in a release. "Dr. Andrews is the best in the business, and it's my hope with patience, and diligent post-surgery rehab, I will be able to put my elbow problems behind me and look forward."
The 41-year-old Weir was playing on a medical exemption and sponsor's exemptions this year and made just two cuts in 15 starts. He tied for 77th at the Farmers Insurance Open in January and tied for 70th at the AT&T National in July.
Weir’s last TOUR win came at the 2007 Fry’s Electronics Open.