McIlroy grants Weaver's wish to play practice round

Rory McIlroy walks with amateur Michael Weaver to the 15th green during a practice round for the Masters.

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Michael Weaver’s dad encouraged him to be assertive this week when it came to introducing himself to people. How did Weaver respond? He asked Rory McIlroy on the range Wednesday morning if he could join him for a nine-hole practice round. McIlroy obliged, and the Cal redshirt junior added another cool story to his Masters week.

His lineup thus far: Nick Watney, Jason Dufner, Luke Donald, Fuzzy Zoeller, Robert Garrigus and McIlroy.

“It’s (about) getting comfortable,” Weaver said. “Getting rid of the intimidation.”

Cynthia Vining can’t believe how relaxed he is this week. Vining has taught Weaver since age 11, and the pair came to Augusta in January to play several practice rounds together. Vining said if Weaver finds his speed on the greens early this week, he’ll be fine. That, and he needs to stick to his game plan.

“He tends to get too aggressive,” she said.

Weaver, who has 20 friends and family on hand this week, qualified for his first Masters by finishing runner-up at the U.S. Amateur to Steven Fox. He’s the first Cal player to play in the Masters while currently competing on the team.

The top-ranked Bears have won eight out of 10 tournaments this season, losing an event Sunday by one stroke without Weaver in the lineup. He’ll also miss the Western Intercollegiate this weekend.

Bill Weaver caddied for his son this afternoon in the Par-3 Contest. He also was on the bag for Michael’s close call last summer at the U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills near Denver.

“I keep thinking I’m going to wake up from an extended dream,” Bill said.

At 11:18 a.m. Thursday, there’s no telling what emotions will be coursing through the body of Bill Weaver. He won’t be inside the ropes when Michael joins Craig Stadler and Ben Curtis on the first tee. He might be off to the side, pulling the bill of his cap down just a tad to hide any tears. No one could blame him.

Michael Weaver turns 22 on Friday, and there’s an obvious gift only he can deliver.

No one wants such a magical week to end prematurely.

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