Weir shoots 80-77 in Abu Dhabi, remains optimistic


ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – When Mike Weir withdrew from last July’s John Deere Classic he was searching for answers.

After rounds of 80-77 in Abu Dhabi it seems he’s still searching, but the Canadian is confident he’s at least on the right path.

This week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is Weir’s first official event since taking an “indefinite leave of absence” last year, a sojourn that included time away from the game with his daughters, Elle and Lili, as well as a return to something familiar – swing coach David Leadbetter.

“Mostly spent time with my daughters, we went to France for almost two weeks and then when we got back soccer season had started and I got to spend a lot of time with them,” Weir told on Saturday.

The 45-year-old began practicing again in mid-October with Leadbetter, who he worked with earlier in his career, and after a litany of injuries he said he is as healthy as he’s been in years.

“I’m really happy with what I’m working on with him, I just didn’t take it to the course this week, probably due to a lack of competition,” Weir said. “The last couple of holes today started to feel like what he wants me to do and that will lead me into next week.”

The complicated part for Weir, an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour including the 2003 Masters, will be where he gets to test that new swing in 2016.

Weir, who has already used his two career money list exemptions, has four starts remaining on a major medical exemption to earn $669,670.

He plans to play the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am next month and hopes to get starts at the Northern Trust Open (which he’s won twice), Honda Classic, Valspar Championship and Shell Houston Open before heading to Augusta National.

“It’s going to be a little tough and I’m not sure,” he said. “I have four events to play. If things are going well I’d like to play four before the Masters.”

Weir, who was divorced in December 2014, also has a minor medical exemption that he could use for an additional four Tour starts to regain his full status.