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June 17 2010

10:04 PM

Weir finds comfort zone at Pebble

Mike Weir has never won a PGA TOUR event at Pebble Beach. But he has put himself in contention several times. In fact, in his last 11 starts at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he's finished inside the top 10 seven times, including a couple of seconds.

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Weir has never won the U.S. Open either. But again, he has put himself in contention several times. In his last seven U.S. Open starts, he has finished outside the top 20 just once, and inside the top 10 four times, including a tie for third in 2003.

So it should be no surprise that the combination of Pebble Beach and the U.S. Open should work in Weir's favor. He certainly showed why in Thursday's first round with a 1-under 70 that left him in a tie for the clubhouse lead after the morning wave.

"You definitely feel that comfort level of playing a golf course that you've played well on," Weir said about Pebble Beach. "You see the shots -- even though the course is set up a little differently -- you have your trees that you're aiming at and your targets.

"I know how to play the golf course. It's just a matter of being able to execute it. ... I'm not searching around for what I'm doing out there as far as game plan it goes."

And about playing well in previous U.S. Opens?

"I think I would say just the grind, more than anything," said Weir, whose last win came in 2007 at the Fry's Electronics Open. "I enjoy that challenge. I look at it that way. I think that more than anything that's probably why I've done well in the U.S. Opens because I know it's tough. I know it's going to be tough. You know every 3-footer is going to be tough.

"So I think that I just enjoy that."

Weir was working through a rollercoaster round through his first 11 holes and found himself 1 over at the point. But then he strung together three straight birdies, parred the 15th, then added another birdie when he chipped in at the 16th to suddenly get to 3 under.

"That was a bonus," Weir said about his chip. "I was hoping to hit a great shot like I did there. I hit a great one, landed where I wanted and just happened to hit the flag. The best I could have done there is 10 feet, and that looked like probably what it was going to be. And I would be happy with that to leave myself a 10-footer uphill.

"I didn't want to land it absolutely perfect and leave it short in the rough and have the same shot again. One of those ones you take a big swing and it came out nice. It's a good shot, but there's a little luck involved in that one."

But the momentum came to half when he had to cool his heels at the par-3 17th, waiting to hit his tee shot. Caught between clubs, he hit a hard 4-iron, didn't find the green and couldn't get up and down. He bogeyed that hole and the last to leave a bad taste.

"You don't want to finish a round like that," Weir said. "It's never a good thing. But it wasn't because I was looking at the scoreboard and looking at where I am in the tournament. ... It's Thursday, and I just happened to hit a couple of poor shots."

All in all, though, a pretty good position for Weir. -- Mike McAllister

MIKE WEIR'S STATISTICS IN THE FIRST ROUND

Driving distance Fairways hit Greens in regulation Putts needed Sand saves
263.5 yards 7 of 14 9 of 18 26 1 of 1
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