Mike Weir Press Conference - The Players Championship
Q. Certainly you are a more confident player than, say, when you won in Vancouver a couple of years ago. Are you also a measurably better player?
MIKE WEIR: Yeah, I'm a much better player than I was. You mentioned Vancouver -- even from a year ago at this time at this tournament, I feel like I'm a much better player. More experience. My game is more solid, a little bit more well rounded and much more consistent. All together, everything is -- all of the work I've been doing the last four or five years is starting to come together.
Q. Any one particular aspect of your game that is observably stronger than, say, a year ago?
MIKE WEIR: I would say mentally I'm more than anything much stronger. That's what carries me through. When I am not swinging as well, I'm still able to score well; whereas, in years past I might have missed a cut or struggled with a round or maybe trying to -- now I shoot a 70, maybe not a good round. Back then, maybe it might have been a 75. That's just managing my game better and being a little bit mentally better.
Q. I understand the two practice rounds you've got deuces at the 17th on each this week. Can you give us some thoughts about that hole and the kind of challenge that it presents when the real game starts tomorrow?
MIKE WEIR: It's such a difficult hole because of the way the wind swirls around there, with the grandstand and the trees behind. It's difficult to pick the ball back up on the tee, exactly which way the wind is going. It might feel a certain way, but it swirls around, and when it swirls around just enough, a 5- or 10-yard difference, it can mean in the water or being close to the hole. That's what makes it so difficult is picking a club and trusting yourself. With the wind blowing left-to-right, it sets up really well for a lander. The right-handed guys I played with today on that hole struggled on that hole, but for me it set up really nicely. As the week goes on, on Saturday and Sunday, it becomes a little more intimidating with the pins tucked kind of in some precarious positions.
MIKE WEIR: I don't know if I would or not. The way I would design the course, I probably would, my design would be probably more of a linksy type because that's the kind of golf I really enjoy the most. But it definitely adds a lots of flavor to it down the stretch of this tournament, and I don't mind it at all. It's a real challenging hole. It's just different than other courses we play.
Q. Excitement aside, do you think it is a fairway to end a tournament when there is so little margin -- the little mis-hits can be punished as bad as the worst?
MIKE WEIR: I think it's very fair, because it really tests your resolve and your nerve, and if you have everything together mentally. Still, if you hit a solid shot and you are on top of your game, you're going to be okay. I think the real challenge is when -- if you're a couple behind, you really have to fire at the flag. That's when it really becomes interesting and you can make a 2 and really get back in the thick of the tournament. I think that's really exciting.
Q. You sounded as if you are interested in getting into course design or management. Have you thought about that?
MIKE WEIR: I've been approached before about it. I've thought about it and that's why I mentioned that, because the type of golf courses that I'm really drawn to are, you know, British Open-style type golf courses. I just like that. If I was going to have my first choice for my first design sometime down the road, that's what I would kind of like to do and that's what I have in mind. Probably some day.
Q. When you come to a course like this or to an Augusta where the tournament is held the same place year-in and year-out where local knowledge can be very important, is there or are there any particular other players that you like being paired with, either in practice rounds or during the tournament, maybe they had a little local knowledge or maybe there are guys that you played off of well in terms of competitiveness or friendliness or any of that stuff?
MIKE WEIR: For me, it was important to play two practice rounds. Maybe I play nine holes and then a Pro-Am during a regular tournament. This week, we don't have a Pro-Am, so it gives us the opportunity to play extra practice rounds and really get a feel for the place. And that's really important down here because it is such a demanding golf course. And visually, it is demanding because you really can't see the fairways and it is -- or you can on some holes, but some holes are very deceptive off the tee and they are difficult visually. Not only with the rough and everything else, they are difficult visually, so you have got to be specific on your targets. That's why I want to play a couple practice rounds and get all of those set before the week starts and get a solid game plan for the golf course.
Q. In general, are there other players that you are comfortable with or enjoy playing with or bring out the best in you maybe?
MIKE WEIR: Not particularly. I like playing with most guys out here. I don't really have a preference. You know, they are the same guys I usually play practice rounds with, but I don't feel like it feeds off my game.
Q. What are some of those, if you don't mind?
MIKE WEIR: Every once in awhile I play with Justin Leonard or Notah. Yesterday I played with Carlos and Steve Flesch and Harrison are good friends of mine. Today I played with Sergio, who I play with quite a bit, and Jesper and John Daly. So a lot of different styles there.
Q. Would you say it's fair to say that whoever wins this week, would you consider it somewhat of a factor at Augusta because of the quality of golf that's required to win?
MIKE WEIR: Well, definitely the quality of golf here is at its highest level. You are not going to have a champion who wins here, it is not going to be a fluke, because the course is so demanding and it tests all aspects of your game. So the player that wins here is obviously going to be playing well. This is obviously a week to be very focused this week or the course will eat you up.
Q. Is it a good tune-up? And from your perspective, I realize you guys don't look at this as a tune-up, but is it a great tune-up because it has great a major championship type atmosphere and the strength of the field, everything that goes into it?
MIKE WEIR: I never really looked at it like that. I think they are two totally separate tournaments and totally different golf courses. I think that, you know, a player that plays well is obviously going to be playing well going in through Augusta. But a player playing well here doesn't necessarily mean that he's going to play well at Augusta. It's totally different. You could be off your game and still score well, I think. Where here, it tests everything, because Augusta, obviously there's no rough. Here, there's rough. You have to chip the ball well. The greens were -- I guess the greens are pretty similar in the contours and the speeds and stuff.
Q. Are you saying that a guy who might not be hitting the ball great could still do okay at Augusta, but if you are not hitting the ball great, you can forget it here?
MIKE WEIR: Exactly.
Q. Could you say what I just said? (Laughter.)
MIKE WEIR: (Smiles).
Q. Are there any holes that set up particularly well for you as a left-hander that we might not think of because mostly right-handers have been successful here?
MIKE WEIR: I think for me, obviously a lot of the -- I draw the ball a little bit so the left-to-right holes, No. 1. 11 a little bit off the tee. 12 sets up pretty good for me. The course sets up pretty well for me. 15, 16 is a little bit difficult and 18 is a difficult tee shot for me. So I think it balances out. Dogleg-lefts are my favorites.
Q. Out over the water?
MIKE WEIR: Being a left-hander, you are starting the ball down the left side and bringing it back. That's a more difficult shot.
Q. What did you hit on 17 today?
MIKE WEIR: 7-iron. Pretty close.
Q. As close as yesterday?
MIKE WEIR: Yeah, about the same. Probably about four feet.
Q. Second shot at 14 and 15?
MIKE WEIR: 14, today I hit a 3-iron, I believe, on 14. Yesterday I hit 3-wood. 15, I hit 4-iron again. So those holes --.
Q. Really long?
MIKE WEIR: Really playing long, as wet as it is out there. But then, the greens are receptive to those clubs right now. I would not want to go into those holes with really firm greens. It would be difficult.
Q. On 17, didn't you play them like 1-under last Thursday and Friday a year ago?
MIKE WEIR: I think I found aqua one day. It was a quick trip for me.
Q. That move you make in your preshot routine, can you tell me about it, how it developed, what it is about?
MIKE WEIR: My coach and I came up with that a few years ago as a drill on the range to kind of stop a little bit of lateral movement that I had on my swing. Keeps my right arm against my chest and I set the club face open with my right hand. To get a little technical, I cut my right wrist, which gets the club face a little bit more open and I try to maintain that in my backswing. So, it is a technical thought, but it gives me the feel for what I want to do on my swing. So it is very feel-oriented, so I just try to repeat that when I make my full swing.
Q. So it is not a slot you are trying to go through; it's a sensation in your right wrist?
MIKE WEIR: It's a little bit of both. It does a lot of things. It also does set the club on plane on the backswing, as well. It's just almost like a rehearsal swing.
Q. The coach you referred to there is David Leadbetter?
MIKE WEIR: No. Mike Wilson is my coach.
Full Coverage of the Players Championship
After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...
Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner
On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...
Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.
After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.
Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.
A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray
Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call
PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.
At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.
“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”
Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.
Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.
Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.
“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park
PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.
Laura Davies won the day.
It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.
Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.
Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.
For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.
In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.
“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”
At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.
“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”
Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.
“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.
With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.
“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”
Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.
“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”
She also relished showing certain fans something.
“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.
Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.
In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.
Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.
“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.
After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.
“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”
Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.
In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.
“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”
And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.
Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill
ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.
The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?
“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”
And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.
After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.
“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”