Victory Near for Mike Weir


Mike Weir will win the Nissan Open this week at the Riviera Country Club in southern California.
Thats a prediction thats actually more of an educated guess that stems from a feeling that grows from hunch.
How educated, you ask, can a hunch be that picks a guy who ballooned to a discomfiting 78 in the final round at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Sunday? To be sure, it was a very public meltdown for Weir. He hit 13 of 14 fairways but missed too many greens and putts to mention. At the end of the day there was nowhere to hide.
For the eighth time in his career Weir had failed to close the deal after leading or sharing the lead through 54 holes.
But hiding is something Mike Weir doesnt know how to do. He comes from the same stolid Canadian stock that makes hockey players the most honorable among all professional athletes when it comes to taking the good with the bad.
Weir shot an 80 in the final round of the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah near Chicago while playing in the company of eventual winner Tiger Woods. He made no excuses.
Likewise, Weir stumbled badly in the final round of the 2004 Bell Canadian Open, his countrys national championship, and squandered a three-shot lead after 54 holes before succumbing to Vijay Singh in a playoff. Afterward, Weir took his lumps with an evenness that made you want to root for him to win again and again.
Im thinking that next time will be next Sunday. There are all kinds of obvious reasons to pick any number of other players. But there are a nice variety of factors that mitigate in Weirs favor.
For starters, he is on form. But for a half a dozen bad holes Sunday at Pebble Beach, Weir was stronger than zoo dirt last week. The 63 he shot Thursday at Pebble, after bogeying the first hole and parring the gettable par 5 second, was a masterpiece that was matched only by the breathtaking Monterey Peninsula scenery.
You dont lose that kind of form in a day. And you dont lose the memories of having won an event two years in a row, as Weir did at Riviera in 2003 and 2004, overnight either.
The 2004 Nissan Open was Weirs last PGA Tour victory. Thats surprising, but no more so than the fact that a player like Davis Love III hasnt won an official event in the U.S. since late 2003.
Sure, Woods will be there at Riviera. And most of the pre-tournament focus will be on Ernie Els and his first competitive appearance on American soil in eight months.
Els looks to be healed up from the knee surgery that ruined his 2005 season. Weir looks to be healthy after suffering through neck problems that, more quietly, vandalized his effectiveness last year.
Call me a contrarian. But Im going with Mike Weir against a strong field. Sunday at Pebble Beach was no good for the former Masters champion. But hell get over it.
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