Q. Certainly you are a more confident player than, say, when you won in Vancouver a couple of years ago. Are you also a measurably better player?
MIKE WEIR: Yeah, I'm a much better player than I was. You mentioned Vancouver -- even from a year ago at this time at this tournament, I feel like I'm a much better player. More experience. My game is more solid, a little bit more well rounded and much more consistent. All together, everything is -- all of the work I've been doing the last four or five years is starting to come together.
Q. Any one particular aspect of your game that is observably stronger than, say, a year ago?
MIKE WEIR: I would say mentally I'm more than anything much stronger. That's what carries me through. When I am not swinging as well, I'm still able to score well; whereas, in years past I might have missed a cut or struggled with a round or maybe trying to -- now I shoot a 70, maybe not a good round. Back then, maybe it might have been a 75. That's just managing my game better and being a little bit mentally better.
Q. I understand the two practice rounds you've got deuces at the 17th on each this week. Can you give us some thoughts about that hole and the kind of challenge that it presents when the real game starts tomorrow?
MIKE WEIR: It's such a difficult hole because of the way the wind swirls around there, with the grandstand and the trees behind. It's difficult to pick the ball back up on the tee, exactly which way the wind is going. It might feel a certain way, but it swirls around, and when it swirls around just enough, a 5- or 10-yard difference, it can mean in the water or being close to the hole. That's what makes it so difficult is picking a club and trusting yourself. With the wind blowing left-to-right, it sets up really well for a lander. The right-handed guys I played with today on that hole struggled on that hole, but for me it set up really nicely. As the week goes on, on Saturday and Sunday, it becomes a little more intimidating with the pins tucked kind of in some precarious positions.
MIKE WEIR: I don't know if I would or not. The way I would design the course, I probably would, my design would be probably more of a linksy type because that's the kind of golf I really enjoy the most. But it definitely adds a lots of flavor to it down the stretch of this tournament, and I don't mind it at all. It's a real challenging hole. It's just different than other courses we play.
Q. Excitement aside, do you think it is a fairway to end a tournament when there is so little margin -- the little mis-hits can be punished as bad as the worst?
MIKE WEIR: I think it's very fair, because it really tests your resolve and your nerve, and if you have everything together mentally. Still, if you hit a solid shot and you are on top of your game, you're going to be okay. I think the real challenge is when -- if you're a couple behind, you really have to fire at the flag. That's when it really becomes interesting and you can make a 2 and really get back in the thick of the tournament. I think that's really exciting.
Q. You sounded as if you are interested in getting into course design or management. Have you thought about that?
MIKE WEIR: I've been approached before about it. I've thought about it and that's why I mentioned that, because the type of golf courses that I'm really drawn to are, you know, British Open-style type golf courses. I just like that. If I was going to have my first choice for my first design sometime down the road, that's what I would kind of like to do and that's what I have in mind. Probably some day.
Q. When you come to a course like this or to an Augusta where the tournament is held the same place year-in and year-out where local knowledge can be very important, is there or are there any particular other players that you like being paired with, either in practice rounds or during the tournament, maybe they had a little local knowledge or maybe there are guys that you played off of well in terms of competitiveness or friendliness or any of that stuff?
MIKE WEIR: For me, it was important to play two practice rounds. Maybe I play nine holes and then a Pro-Am during a regular tournament. This week, we don't have a Pro-Am, so it gives us the opportunity to play extra practice rounds and really get a feel for the place. And that's really important down here because it is such a demanding golf course. And visually, it is demanding because you really can't see the fairways and it is -- or you can on some holes, but some holes are very deceptive off the tee and they are difficult visually. Not only with the rough and everything else, they are difficult visually, so you have got to be specific on your targets. That's why I want to play a couple practice rounds and get all of those set before the week starts and get a solid game plan for the golf course.
Q. In general, are there other players that you are comfortable with or enjoy playing with or bring out the best in you maybe?
MIKE WEIR: Not particularly. I like playing with most guys out here. I don't really have a preference. You know, they are the same guys I usually play practice rounds with, but I don't feel like it feeds off my game.
Q. What are some of those, if you don't mind?
MIKE WEIR: Every once in awhile I play with Justin Leonard or Notah. Yesterday I played with Carlos and Steve Flesch and Harrison are good friends of mine. Today I played with Sergio, who I play with quite a bit, and Jesper and John Daly. So a lot of different styles there.
Q. Would you say it's fair to say that whoever wins this week, would you consider it somewhat of a factor at Augusta because of the quality of golf that's required to win?
MIKE WEIR: Well, definitely the quality of golf here is at its highest level. You are not going to have a champion who wins here, it is not going to be a fluke, because the course is so demanding and it tests all aspects of your game. So the player that wins here is obviously going to be playing well. This is obviously a week to be very focused this week or the course will eat you up.
Q. Is it a good tune-up? And from your perspective, I realize you guys don't look at this as a tune-up, but is it a great tune-up because it has great a major championship type atmosphere and the strength of the field, everything that goes into it?
MIKE WEIR: I never really looked at it like that. I think they are two totally separate tournaments and totally different golf courses. I think that, you know, a player that plays well is obviously going to be playing well going in through Augusta. But a player playing well here doesn't necessarily mean that he's going to play well at Augusta. It's totally different. You could be off your game and still score well, I think. Where here, it tests everything, because Augusta, obviously there's no rough. Here, there's rough. You have to chip the ball well. The greens were -- I guess the greens are pretty similar in the contours and the speeds and stuff.
Q. Are you saying that a guy who might not be hitting the ball great could still do okay at Augusta, but if you are not hitting the ball great, you can forget it here?
MIKE WEIR: Exactly.
Q. Could you say what I just said? (Laughter.)
MIKE WEIR: (Smiles).
Q. Are there any holes that set up particularly well for you as a left-hander that we might not think of because mostly right-handers have been successful here?
MIKE WEIR: I think for me, obviously a lot of the -- I draw the ball a little bit so the left-to-right holes, No. 1. 11 a little bit off the tee. 12 sets up pretty good for me. The course sets up pretty well for me. 15, 16 is a little bit difficult and 18 is a difficult tee shot for me. So I think it balances out. Dogleg-lefts are my favorites.
Q. Out over the water?
MIKE WEIR: Being a left-hander, you are starting the ball down the left side and bringing it back. That's a more difficult shot.
Q. What did you hit on 17 today?
MIKE WEIR: 7-iron. Pretty close.
Q. As close as yesterday?
MIKE WEIR: Yeah, about the same. Probably about four feet.
Q. Second shot at 14 and 15?
MIKE WEIR: 14, today I hit a 3-iron, I believe, on 14. Yesterday I hit 3-wood. 15, I hit 4-iron again. So those holes --.
Q. Really long?
MIKE WEIR: Really playing long, as wet as it is out there. But then, the greens are receptive to those clubs right now. I would not want to go into those holes with really firm greens. It would be difficult.
Q. On 17, didn't you play them like 1-under last Thursday and Friday a year ago?
MIKE WEIR: I think I found aqua one day. It was a quick trip for me.
Q. That move you make in your preshot routine, can you tell me about it, how it developed, what it is about?
MIKE WEIR: My coach and I came up with that a few years ago as a drill on the range to kind of stop a little bit of lateral movement that I had on my swing. Keeps my right arm against my chest and I set the club face open with my right hand. To get a little technical, I cut my right wrist, which gets the club face a little bit more open and I try to maintain that in my backswing. So, it is a technical thought, but it gives me the feel for what I want to do on my swing. So it is very feel-oriented, so I just try to repeat that when I make my full swing.
Q. So it is not a slot you are trying to go through; it's a sensation in your right wrist?
MIKE WEIR: It's a little bit of both. It does a lot of things. It also does set the club on plane on the backswing, as well. It's just almost like a rehearsal swing.
Q. The coach you referred to there is David Leadbetter?
MIKE WEIR: No. Mike Wilson is my coach.
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