Weir Has Earned a Shot at Tiger

By Ian HutchinsonSeptember 29, 2007, 4:00 pm
MONTREAL -- Just a few short days ago, the suggestion of a singles showdown between Mike Weir and Tiger Woods might have been considered posturing to a partisan Canadian crowd at Royal Montreal that has adored its native son since he produced a Masters victory in 2003.
 
It didnt matter that Weir has struggled since losing the 2004 Canadian Open to Vijay Singh in a playoff and some of his countrymen openly questioned him being selected as a captains pick by International captain Gary Player for the Presidents Cup.
 
Weirsy versus Woods is what they wanted and Weirsy versus Woods is exactly what they got and for all the right reasons.
 
After joining Ernie Els on Saturday afternoon to defeat Charles Howell III and Lucas Glover 4 and 2 in four-ball play, Weir has been the dominant player on an International team that was swamped in foursomes and four-ball play Saturday.
 
The Internationals face a near-impossible task in coming back from a 14.5 to 7.5 deficit against an American team that has traditionally dominated Presidents Cup singles matches. In each of the last three events, the U.S. has won 7.5 to 4.5 in singles play and holds a 42.5 to 29.5 all-time lead.
 
Cynics would say that Woods versus Weir is all that this Presidents Cup has left and they may be right, but Weir is 2-1-1 so far, tying him with Vijay Singh for the best record among International players and the match is positioned so it may make a difference if there is any chance of a comeback against the U.S.
 
Weir and Woods will be the fourth match out of the blocks on Sunday, playing right behind Singh and Phil Mickelson and ahead of Angel Cabrera and Woody Austin.
 
Ive got my hands full, thats for sure, said Weir. I think its good for the fans. Everybody is fired up about the match. We need some momentum, so hopefully I can play well and get some blue on the board.
 
Theres three groups in front of us. Hopefully, there will be some blue on the board before I even get started and that will give me some momentum. Ive really fed off the crowd this week and, hopefully, I can do that tomorrow because Ill need it.
 
Weirs last PGA TOUR win came at the 2004 Nissan Open and during his recent struggles, he has made significant swing changes and switched coaches, but since Thursday, he has resembled the old Weir with sharp irons and dependable putting.
 
Ernie Els has played alongside Weir in both of his four-ball wins and says Weir is the logical choice. The way hes played all week, hes basically earned his spot to play against the world No. 1.
 
Ive played with him the last two days and Ive seen the way hes playing. If theres one player on our team that can really give Tiger a go, it will be Mike Weir. Hes going to have all of Canada behind him. I think it will be great for the tournament, great for the fans and for television.
 
Weve got to find some wins early on and try and turn this thing around. I mean youre up against a very large mountain here, but I think its a great match-up.
 
Stuart Appleby echoes those comments. I think Mike has earned the right to represent us against the No. 1 player in the world and certainly, in Canada, its a bit of a Cinderella story.
 
We have not put him there for token value. I guess theres a sentimental point to it and also a functional point. Hes not a weak link and its not lambs to the slaughter. Where is he in the matches? Four? Thats the meaty part of the tee times. We obviously have to find some victories very, very quickly.
 
Weir has never played against Woods in either the Presidents Cup or the Accenture Match Play Championship, but Els know what its like to go head-on with Tiger in front of his countrymen after the 2003 Presidents Cup in South Africa.
 
I knew I was up against it. I had a good Presidents Cup in South Africa in front of my home fans, so I was up for it, but I wasnt good enough on the day.
 
Mikes playing so solid. Hes not hitting a lot of bad shots and thats what youve got to do against (Woods). Youve got to keep playing your game and, hopefully, Mikes putts drop tomorrow and he can shoot something like 6 or 7 under and have a chance against Tiger.
 
I think it will be great. What Ive seen with the crowd, I really think hes got a bit of an advantage there.
 

Email your thoughts to Ian Hutchinson
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Presidents Cup
     
    Toronto Sun Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
  • Getty Images

    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

    <
    Getty Images

    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

    Getty Images

    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

    Getty Images

    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.