Mike Weir’s Masters ‘ball of laughs’ anything but with career-worst Augusta round

 

 
 
 
 
Canada's Mike Weir watches his shot on the second fairway during the first round of the Masters golf tournament on Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Augusta, Ga.
 

Canada's Mike Weir watches his shot on the second fairway during the first round of the Masters golf tournament on Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Augusta, Ga.

Photograph by: Charlie Riedel, Associated Press

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — A Masters win comes with a lifetime invitation, but it makes no promises about what happens to the player or his golf game over time.

For Mike Weir, struggling to make an unimpeded full swing, his first official trip around Augusta National in this Masters, 12 years after winning the green jacket, was … well, let him tell it.

"Oh, a ball of laughs," he said, after shooting a career-worst, 10-over-par 82 on the course he conquered in 2003.

"It's just getting the strength and endurance in this (right) arm to last longer. It just seems to fatigue. In my mind I want to keep my swing short but the arm just keeps bending — and that's just the ligament and the strength in my forearm."

Playing alongside Canadian amateur Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., and PGA Tour regular Ben Crane, Weir's driving was erratic, he had three sixes and a seven on his scorecard, a lone birdie at the par-five 13th, and recorded matching nines of 41 to sit dead-last among the morning players, though he was surpassed in the afternoon.

Conners shot 80 and Crane 79, so there wasn't a lot of joy being had in that grouping. But Weir said he never considered withdrawing for medical reasons, and won't now.

"I mean, I still enjoy it. I had a good time watching Corey, and trying to grind out my best out there," said Weir. "Masters champion or not, it's no fun to play bad, I don't care who you are.

"Your smile's not as big, I guess, when you don't play well."

Conners, 23, in his Masters debut after finishing runner-up to Korea's Gunn Yang in the 2014 U.S. Amateur, said he did a good job of not looking at the big picture.

He took a big breath on the first tee, picked out a target, "made a smooth swing and smoked it.

"It was pretty cool walking off that tee. Unlike anything I've done before," he said. "I've said before I grew up watching (Weir) play and it was cool to be out there with him, all the support, people yelling 'Go, Canada.' I did a really good job of taking one shot at a time and feel like I executed a lot of nice shots, just got in some tough spots."

His round, which started with four straight pars, began to unravel when he gave back five strokes in a stretch from No. 5 through No. 8, including a bogey at the par-three 6th when his tee shot landed no more than six feet short of the hole and backed all the way down the hill and off the false front.

Weir made a pair of heroic par saves out of the trees at the seventh and ninth holes and a lone birdie at the 13th, but promptly bogeyed the 14th and doubled the 15th.

That's the way his day went, but Weir said he intends to keep playing and has no plans to petition the PGA Tour for a medical exemption.

"I've just got to keep going through the process here and try to get it right. Rest doesn't seem to be doing anything," he said.

"I'm an exempt player. I've got to play. That's the plan."

ccole@vancouversun.com

Twitter.com/rcamcole

 
 
 
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Canada's Mike Weir watches his shot on the second fairway during the first round of the Masters golf tournament on Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Augusta, Ga.
 

Canada's Mike Weir watches his shot on the second fairway during the first round of the Masters golf tournament on Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Augusta, Ga.

Photograph by: Charlie Riedel, Associated Press

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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