Defending Champion Weir Misses Cut

By Sports NetworkApril 9, 2004, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Mike Weir will still be around on Sunday to participate in the closing ceremony at the 68th Masters.
He just won't be playing.
Weir was unable to save par on the 18th. The late bogey dropped him back to 5-over-par 149 and he became the latest defending champion to fail to make the cut the following year at the Masters.
'I played well,' said Weir, who posted a 2-under 70 in the second round. 'I just hit the wrong club on the last hole. The wind was swirling and I just hit the wrong club.'
Jose Maria Olazabal was the last to do so when he accomplished the infamous feat in 2000. The Spaniard is in much better shape this week, but Weir never found his swing in a disappointing effort.
Weir left the course Thursday evening on a down note. He had managed to grind to 2 over on the back nine before a costly double bogey at the 15th dropped him back to plus-4.
He returned to Augusta National Friday morning to complete his first round and bogeyed each of his last three holes for a dismal 79.
Like Tiger Woods, Weir wasn't carrying an incredible amount of momentum into Augusta this week.
He successfully defended his title at the Nissan Open, but missed the cut at The Players Championship. At the BellSouth Classic last week, Weir stuck around for the weekend but tied for 45th and was never in contention.
'My game hasn't been good the last couple of weeks, but this afternoon was a lot better,' said Weir.
Weir was optimistic earlier this week. He gave the champions dinner a Canadian spin and looked forward to defending his major crown.
'Last year did give me a lot of confidence, definitely moving forward, that I was able to handle a lot of pressure and come through,' Weir said Tuesday. 'I'll hopefully put myself back in there again this week.'
Things seemed to get worse for Weir right out of the gate in the second round on Friday. He bogeyed the first to drop to 8 over par but valiantly battled back with three birdies on the front nine to inch closer to the 36-hole cut.
'I was just trying to fight back,' he said. 'It is a tough golf course today to do that.'
Weir stumbled with a bogey at the 11th, but was able to counter again with back-to-back birdies starting at the par-3 12th.
The left-hander was at 4 under par and buckled down with pars over the closing before the decisive bogey at the last, a hole that has been the downfall for many this week, cost him a shot at the weekend.
Last year was special not only for Weir, but for Len Mattiace as well.
Mattiace, who fired a gutsy 65 in the final round last year to match Weir in the clubhouse at 7 under before losing to the Canadian in a playoff, displayed a high degree of emotion in defeat.
'It was a special event last year. That was the past,' said Mattiace. 'I've got challenges ahead of me.'
Mattiace's return trip to Augusta didn't go quite as planned.
He posted a 76 in the opening round on Thursday and failed to make a move early on Friday with a pair of bogeys and a birdie over his first nine holes.
Mattiace found more trouble on Amen Corner and dropped another shot at the 11th. His chances of making the halfway cut were ultimately derailed by a double bogey at the par-5 13th.
'It's disappointing not to play well the first two days,' said Mattiace, who tallied a birdie at the 15th en route to a 75 on Friday. 'I need to hit the ball better.'
Mattiace will miss the cut at 7-over-par 151, one year after coming so close to winning the biggest championship in golf. But then again, this is Augusta and nothing is ever a guarantee.
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