A Lost Year for Love And Weir


PGA of AmericaSPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- Davis Love III stood on his balcony at the Old Course Hotel as the early starters in the second round of the British Open played below. He had an afternoon tee time that day, but the hollow look on his face showed someone who knew he could only watch another major championship go by.
By the end of the day, he had missed the cut and was headed home early from a major for the second time this year.
I wanted a chance in all of them, and I havent gotten one yet, Love said.
Mike Weir had high hopes, too, and several players were quick to mention his name as someone who could crash the party of the so-called Big Five at the start of the year.
It fell apart in April after he tied for fifth in the Masters. A stomach virus caused Weir to vomit so much that he fell asleep on his bathroom floor and awoke the next morning with a wrenched back. Weir didnt give it enough time to heal and he paid the price. He missed the cut in six of his next seven tournaments.
I thought I was going to have a big year, Weir said Tuesday.
In that regard, Im disappointed.
So much of the focus this year has been on the Big Five, which has been whittled down to the Big Two going into the final major championship of the year. Tiger Woods has four victories, including the Masters and British Open to regain his No. 1 world ranking. Vijay Singh also has four victories, and top 10s in all three majors.
Ernie Els won three times overseas before a season-ending knee injury. Phil Mickelson has come up empty in the majors, although he won three times before the Masters. Retief Goosen won last week at the International.
Love and Weir are simply trying to salvage a lost year.
They were among the top 10 in the world when the season began, and now are in the middle of the pack. Love has slipped to No. 18, while Weir is at No. 25. Neither is assured a spot in the Tour Championship. Both are No. 9 in their respective standings for the Presidents Cup, never dreaming they would be on the bubble.
The motto for the PGA Championship'Glorys Last Shot'takes on new meaning for them.
Can one week atone for a season gone haywire?
No, Love said. But you can forget about most of it.
Love turned 41 in April. Time is not on his side.
He has failed to win a PGA Tour event five of the last seven years. Love has had seven finishes in the top 10 this year, but no serious chances at winning. And he has taken himself out of the majors, opening with rounds of 76 at the Masters, 77 at the U.S. Open and 75 at the British Open in the tamest conditions.
The only cut he made came at Pinehurst No. 2, where he closed with rounds of 70-70-69 to tie for sixth.
After that, I figure Im good for the rest of the year, Love said.
He went to Turnberry and shot 62 before heading over to the British Open at St. Andrews. He was hitting the ball with authority during his practice round and felt as good as he ever as going into his favorite major. But he knew it was over after the first round.
You get six or eight shots back and its like, Where am I going to make up these shots? I got off to the same start at the U.S. Open. Thats when you get frustrated, he said.
Weir knows the feeling.
Singh and Els were among those who predicted a big season for the Canadian, who had taken the winter off so he could start off fresh. A runner-up finish at Pebble Beach was promising, as was his tie for fifth at the Masters, even though Weir never had a chance to win.
Then he got sick and fell asleep on the bathroom floor.
It sounds like a funny thing, sleeping that way, Weir said.
But I couldnt swing a club for a week. When I got to Wachovia, I couldnt swing. I shouldnt have played there. I never had a chance to recover. I tried to stretch, I had my trainer with me, but I still ingrained some bad habits.
He failed to break par over the next four months, until he finally felt strong enough to work with swing coach Mike Wilson, putting in six- and seven-hour practice sessions.
Weir tied for 15th at the International last week, and his outlook is changing.
Im working as hard as ever, Weir said. Just feeling healthy and setting to the ball nice and solid, I havent been able to do that the last few months. I think Im on the right track.
Love is hoping his low standing for the Presidents Cup is a good omen. The last time he was near the bottom of a list going into the PGA Championship was in 1997 at Winged Foot, where he won his only major.
Weir will go to Montreal on Monday to join PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem in announcing that the Presidents Cup will be played in Canada in 2007. It would look foolish if Canadas biggest golf star were not on this years team.
But he doesnt think that will be the case.
In a year when Weir and Love have been falling stars, they cling to the idea that Glorys Last Shot might contain a surprise for them.
This week, Weir said, can make up for a lot.
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