Masters 2013: ‘I can find it again,’ Weir says
It took 286 shots for Mike Weir to win the 2003 Masters and thousands more in practice. The one that replays in his mind is the testy 7-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to force a sudden-death playoff with Len Mattiace.
Technically, it wasn’t the winning putt, but it might as well have been.
“It had a kind of finality to it,” Weir said.
Miss, and it was over. Weir made it, and when he tapped in his only bogey of the day one hole later, it was good enough to raise his arms and celebrate becoming the first left-hander to don the green jacket and first Canadian to win a major.
But more than any single shot, Weir remembers the struggle to improve from a self-described “average Canadian Tour player” to major champion.
“It was never easy for me,” Weir said.
Reminiscing about his Masters triumph reminds him of his five failed attempts at Q-School before he earned his PGA Tour card, and of the time at the 1995 Canadian Open when he warmed up on the range next to three-time major champion Nick Price.
“I watched these lasers going right at the pin, and I thought to myself, ‘Wow, if I have to beat a player like this, I have some work to do,’ ” Weir said.
By April 2003, that work had produced five Tour victories, including two that season heading into the Masters.
“I was so confident in playing well that it seemed like any golf course, I was going to play well on,” Weir said.
He erased a three-stroke deficit on the final nine to catch Mattiace, who finished four groups ahead with a stunning 65 to post a 72-hole score of 7-under 281.
The playoff didn’t last long. At the downhill 495-yard, par-4 10th hole, Mattiace hooked his approach left of the green and into trees and made double bogey.
Weir has won only twice since, the latest in 2007, and his brand of precision golf has abandoned him. He missed the cut in all 14 tournaments he entered in 2012, and his Tour privileges have been reduced to playing out of the “past champion” category. Weir has fiddled with swing changes and suffered injuries, the latest being a rib injury that forced him to withdraw from the Arnold Palmer Invitational during the third round and pull out of the Shell Houston Open. Weir may be a game-time decision to play in the Masters.
Before being sidelined, Weir seemed on the verge of breaking out of his slump. He has made three of nine cuts this season. But rather than wallow in self-pity over how far he has fallen (No. 1,519 in the Official World Golf Ranking), Weir views his Masters moment of a decade ago as evidence that he can rise again.
“I figured it out one time, how to get to the top. . . . I can find it again,” he said. “I just feel like I’m going to find a way to get it done.”