Weir Winds His Way Back to Augusta

By Associated PressApril 4, 2004, 4:00 pm
Mike Weir tapped in his only bogey putt on the final day at Augusta National, then raised his arms to celebrate his playoff victory. His wife ran onto the 10th green, arms outstretched, unleashing memories that reminded him just how far he had traveled to become a Masters champion.

They spent weeks at a time on opposite ends of the world when he played the tiniest of tours.
There were times Bricia worked as his caddie to save a few bucks.
They rented storage units for $50 a month so they wouldn't have to pay for an apartment while traveling.
'I think that was the most satisfying moment of the whole tournament, having my wife run out there on the green, the sacrifices she's made and the belief she had in me,' Weir said.
The Canadian fits right in with recent Masters champions who had times in their careers when they could not picture themselves in a Green Jacket.
Jose Maria Olazabal spent 18 months confined to his bed with a mysterious foot injury, wondering whether he would ever walk again, much less play golf. A German doctor finally diagnosed the problem in his back, and two years later the Spaniard strode purposefully up the 18th fairway of Augusta National in 1999 to a two-shot victory.
Vijay Singh was exiled to the rain forests of Borneo in 1985, earning minimum wage plus $10 for lessons at Keningau Club, then hitting balls under a blistering sun in his spare time. Fifteen years later, he was a model of poise on his way to victory in the 2000 Masters.
Mike Weir successfully defended his Nissan Open title in February. Weir was no different.
It wasn't the multiple tries at Q-School before he finally earned his PGA Tour card.
It wasn't the time he warmed up on the practice range next to Nick Price at the '95 Bell Canadian Open, hearing the crisp sound coming off Price's irons that made Weir realize how inadequate his own game was.
Weir traces his despair -- and his resilience -- to the Indonesian Open in the mid-1990s.
He was on his own, struggling to keep his hopes alive. The golf course was an hour from the hotel, and Weir had to get a cab. Worse yet, the cab broke down on the flooded back roads of Jakarta.
Ah, the glamorous life of a touring professional.
'I carried my bag through all this muddy water, hitchhiking back to the golf course,' Weir said. 'I got through it and shot 80, making a 9 on a par 3. I think probably then, I had a tough time thinking I would win the Masters.
'But those times made me tougher and makes it even more rewarding, the six or seven years I've spent playing smaller tours and driving everywhere, finding a way just to make ends meet to keep going,' he said. 'I appreciated it as much as the other guys who came from a different background to get there.'
Weir returns to Augusta National as the first left-hander, and first Canadian, to have won the Masters.
If his journey to a green jacket sounds extraordinary, so was his final round. He went from a one-shot lead to a three-shot deficit when Len Mattiace showed that the longer, stronger back nine at Augusta still left room for a dramatic charge.
Weir answered with precision wedges and clutch putts -- the 12-foot birdie putt on No. 13, a wedge into 5 feet for birdie on No. 15 to pull into a tie, then one of the most nerve-racking putts anyone can face in a major championship.
After leaving a long birdie putt on the final hole some 6 feet short, Weir steeled himself and holed it for par to force the first sudden-death playoff at Augusta National in 13 years.
The playoff ended quickly when Mattiace pulled his approach on No. 10 to the left, behind a tree, leaving him no chance to get it close. He eventually made double bogey, leaving Weir two putts from 6 feet to win the Masters.
It was the third victory of the year for Weir, who emerged as an instant star, and the highest-ranked lefty in golf. He has won seven times on Tour, including a Tour Championship, a World Golf Championships and twice at Riviera, where he successfully defended his Nissan Open title two months ago.
'Any time you win a major, I think there's probably a different level of respect because the players ultimately know how hard it is to win one,' Weir said.
Coming off a poor season in 2002 -- no victories, 78th on the money list -- he spent hours working on his swing in the basement of his Salt Lake City home, and emerged better than ever.
Weir returned to Augusta National last week for the first time since his Masters victory, playing a practice round with his father and his caddie, Brennan Little, a long-time friend. He spent the night in Bobby Jones' cabin, found his locker in the Champions Room (he shares one with Doug Ford) and played the course.
'I had a chance to take my dad and play,' he said. 'Each hole, we went around and I just reminisced about a certain shot, showed him where I was on a certain hole and what I was thinking. That was cool to relive that.'
Cooler yet is to remember what it took to get him there.
Related links:
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    Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

    PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

    She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

    “I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

    Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

    “Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

    She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

    “I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

    Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

    She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

    “They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

    Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

    While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

    “Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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    Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

    PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

    In fact, she named her “Mona.”

    For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

    While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

    And that has her excited about this year.

    Well, that and having a healthy back again.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

    Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

    Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

    She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

    Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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    Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

    By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

    PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

    Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

    Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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    Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

    PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

    With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

    After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

    “I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

    It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

    Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

    “It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

    Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

    “Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

    Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

    Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

    “It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

    Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

    “This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

    Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.