A Little Practice Can be a Dangerous Thing


The Canadian Kid was the last man standing. The left-hander with the waggle was the sole survivor. On a day when the desert winds blew and scores soared, Mike Weir played a bogey-free back nine and birdied the final three holes to win the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
First Weir caught and passed overnight leader Tim Herron. It took him until the 90th ' and final ' hole to breeze by Jay Haas. In fact, the only time Mike led the Hope was when he ended the tournament with his 10-footer for bird on 18.
It feels great, gushed the champion, to be back in the winners circle. Of course it does.
Weir closed the 2001 season with a win at the prestigious Tour Championship. His world ranking soared to a career high of nine. But in 2002 ' for the first season in his five on tour ' Weir failed to post one single top-10 finish.
His world ranking plummeted to No. 47. I know exactly what happened, said Weir. I stopped using my waggle and I just didnt spend enough time on my wedge-game and putting.
Take note that after Haas hit his 4-iron second shot into the lake on the par-5 finishing hole, Weir wedged and putted to victory.
But the bottom line is: Weir waggled his way to his fourth PGA Tour title. Mike has one of the most distinctive pre-shot routines in golf. He sets up to the ball and then takes the club halfway back. He makes sure the clubface is in the proper position, checks to see that his arms are close to his body, puts the club back behind the ball and fires. He does this on every shot, with every club. Every shot becomes routine, explained Weir, no matter what the situation no matter how much pressure Im under.
Last year, I felt like the waggle was getting stale, said Weir, so I stopped using it all the time. The result: no wins, no top 10s. I had the chance to win a few times early last year, Mike recalled, and I couldnt finish them off. He simply could not pull off the pressure shots without the settling routine of the waggle.
Weir spent nearly three months during the off-season waggling in the basement of his Utah home while also working diligently on his short game. Many remember Weir as a guy who wins big events at the end of the year (the 2000 World Golf Championship and the 2001 Tour Championship), but the left-hander warns, watch out when he has a lot of time off before a tournament. When I played at Brigham Young, Weir said, I won the first tournament of the year three times after practicing indoors on fundamentals all winter.
So Mike took to his mirror-lined basement and has waggled his way back to prominence. In his first start of the year in Phoenix, he ended that top-10 drought. His world ranking jumped to 39. Now, after averaging 66 strokes per round in his victory at the Hope, Mikes number is clearly on the rise.