Support for Weir Never Changes

By Ian HutchinsonSeptember 27, 2007, 4:00 pm
MONTREAL -- Jack Peter, the amiable chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame, was jokingly dubbed Jacques Pierre on his first visit to this French-speaking city, which also has a variety of other cultures that add to its unique charm.
On Wednesday, Peter had commented on the warm, sunny conditions at Royal Montreal, adding that it wasnt much different than when he left St. Augustine, Fla. He spoke too soon.
As the Presidents Cup was about to get serious on Thursday, the skies opened and, just when it seemed that the deluge was over, another downpour started.
Suddenly, it seemed like what Canada should be in late September, with the changing leaves providing a touch of color against the gray skies and a slight chill in the air. Still, some Canadians, as they are known to do in holding on to summer too long, wore shorts.
It turns out that wasnt a bad call in attire after all because it became almost balmy in the afternoon when lone Canadian Mike Weir joined forces with Vijay Singh to take on Phil Mickelson and Woody Austin in opening day foursomes.
With the precipitation finished, the rain that came down on Weir was in the form of applause when he appeared on the first tee, but even though he is the home boy, generous helpings of cheers were also doled out to Singh, International captain Gary Player and his American counterpart Jack Nicklaus.
Golf is no different in Canada where the patrons at Royal Montreal only want to see outstanding golf, be it a shot from Mickelson, Singh, Austin or Weir.
Even Mickelsons wife seemed to have a fan club, with fans hollering Amy! Amy!' as she walked the fairways alongside her hubby.
The fans were fantastic, said Charles Howell III. They cheered a little louder for the Internationals, but they also seemed to be cheering for the Americans, as well. I thought it was fantastic.
The spirit was fitting for the goodwill nature of the Presidents Cup, but have no doubt about it, Weir is the favored son in Montreal, where the cheers for him ranged from Mike to Mikey to Weirsy, with the occasional Lefty thrown in for good measure.
Weir doesnt give anything back on the golf course, which is okay by Canadian fans who understand that he is focused between the ropes. Tiger Woods knows more than anybody about what Weir faces when he plays in Canada.
When youre playing, one of the things that my dad always taught me is that no one ever takes a shot but you, no matter what anyone says or does. You have to pull off the shot, said Woods.
Is it fantastic that people root for you? Yeah. Or they could root against you. Your responsibility is to hit a golf shot and putt it where you want to putt it.
What I think is great is sometimes, when youre down and youre not really playing well and people are cheering you on, sometimes I can turn things around because you feed off their energy.
Also, if youre playing really well, you can get into a snowball effect and get into a frenzy and really get going. Weve seen that in individual play, weve seen it in team play in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups. Fan energy certainly adds to an event and it brings up our caliber of play, just because of the energy that is out there.
Weir, by nature is not an overly demonstrative person, but his fans understand and point to the gentle nature they see when he is interviewed on television. Thats the Weir they appreciate.
He plays good. Hes really nice, said Alexander Sylvestre, 7, who was standing on the ninth hole with his dad Louis-Philippe and sister Marie-Eve when Weirs match came through.
Dad expanded on that thought. Hes a classy guy. Every time we see him on the interviews, hes always well-spoken, so hes a good ambassador for our country and for golf in general, said Louis-Philippe, adding that there was a definite Weir buzz in the gallery.
We just saw it on this hole. He arrived and people were following him. In certain ways, we know this tournament is here because of him. He made some efforts to get it here and were very happy for that.
So Weir not only provided Canadas greatest moment in golf by winning the 2003 Masters, but also played a part in enabling them to see the best the PGA TOUR has to offer, which isnt an everyday occurrence with the Canadian Open falling on hard times and hurting for marquee names every year.
Canadian fans are appreciating the presence of golfs top names, thanks to Weirs efforts. I like Phil Mickelson because he gave my sister a ball, said Alexander.
So, its little wonder that they cheered when Weir was first named to the team, despite his struggles the past few seasons, and when he represented Canada on home soil yesterday. After a three-week layoff since his last tournament, Weirs play was as unpredictable as the weather, running both hot and cold.
Weir and Singh went two-down on the first three holes, but evened it up again on the sixth where Weir made a dramatic approach shot. They were 2-up by the turn and pushed that to 3-up by the 11th before Mickelson and Austin made a charge of their own.
The match finished all square, a disappointment considering the commanding lead the Internationals once held, but something positive in that the half point was the best the team could do on a day of American domination.
When it comes to Weir, most Canadians will look at the positive, even when his fortunes change as quickly as the weather.
This years been tough for him, but hes starting to come back and were all proud, said Louis-Philippe Sylvestre.
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    Toronto Sun Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
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    Snedeker leads by one heading into final round

    By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 3:26 pm

    GREENSBORO, N.C. – Brandt Snedeker took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the weather-delayed Wyndham Championship after finishing the third round Sunday with a 2-under 68.

    Snedeker was at 16-under 194 through three rounds of the final PGA Tour event of the regular season. Brian Gay and David Hearn were at 15 under, with Gay shooting a 62 and Hearn a 64.

    Thirty players were on the course Saturday when play was suspended because of severe weather. After a delay of 3 hours, 23 minutes, organizers chose to hold things up until Sunday morning.

    Snedeker, who shot an opening-round 59 to become just the 10th tour player to break 60, is chasing his first victory since 2016 and his second career win at this tournament.

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    Olesen edges past Poulter in Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 3:10 pm

    With only two weeks left in the qualification window, Thorbjorn Olesen is now in position to make his Ryder Cup debut.

    Olesen finished alone in fourth place at the Nordea Masters, two shots out of a playoff between Thomas Aiken and eventual winner Paul Waring. Olesen carded four straight sub-70 rounds in Sweden, including a final-round 67 that featured three birdies over his final seven holes.

    It's a tight race for the fourth and final Ryder Cup spot via the World Points list, and Olesen's showing this week will allow him to move past Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, both of whom didn't play this week, into the No. 4 slot. Olesen is now also less than 40,000 Euros behind Tommy Fleetwood to qualify via the European Points list.

    The top four players from both lists on Sept. 2 will qualify for next month's matches, with captain Thomas Bjorn rounding out the roster with four selections on Sept. 4. Poulter and Casey will both have a chance to move back in front next week at The Northern Trust, while the final qualifying week will include the PGA Tour event at TPC Boston and Olesen headlining the field in his homeland at the Made in Denmark.

    Even if Olesen fails to qualify automatically for Paris, the 28-year-old continues to bolster his credentials for a possible pick from his countryman, Bjorn. Olesen won the Italian Open in June, finished second at the BMW International Open three weeks later and has now compiled four top-12 finishes over his last five worldwide starts including a T-3 result at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.

    In addition to the players who fail to qualify from the Olesen-Poulter-Casey trio, other candidates for Bjorn's quartet of picks will likely include major champions Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

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    Thompson bounces back from rule violation

    By Randall MellAugust 19, 2018, 2:22 am

    If Lexi Thompson’s trouble in the sixth fairway brought back any painful memories Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, she shook them off in a hurry.

    If the approach of another rules official amid a spirited run of brilliant play rattled her, she didn’t show it.

    Thompson posted an 8-under-par 64 in the third round despite another awkward rules infraction.

    Her round was impressively bogey free but not mistake free, and so her work will be a little harder Sunday chasing Lizette Salas.

    After incurring a one-shot penalty for violating a local rule in effect for preferred lies, Thompson will start the final round five shots back instead of four.

    She knows she’s fortunate she isn’t six back.

    If a rules official hadn’t witnessed Thompson in the middle of committing the infraction, she could have been assessed an additional penalty shot for playing from the wrong spot.

    Thompson got the penalty after stepping on the 10th tee and blowing her drive right, into the sixth fairway. She got it after picking up her ball over there and lifting, cleaning and placing it. She got it because she wasn’t allowed to do that in any other fairway except for the fairway of the hole she was playing.

    The preferred-lie rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

    The story here isn’t really the penalty.

    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

    It’s Thompson’s reaction to it, because she opened this week in such heartfelt fashion. After skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open to take a month-long “mental break,” Thompson revealed this week that she has been struggling emotionally in the wake of last year’s highs and lows. She opened up about how trying to “hide” her pain and show strength through it all finally became too much to bear. She needed a break. She also candidly shared how the challenges of being a prodigy who has poured herself into the game have led her to seek therapists’ help in building a life about more than golf.

    That’s a lot for a 23-year-old to unload publicly.

    Last year may have been the best and the worst of Thompson’s career. She said dealing with that controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration title, watching her mother battle cancer and losing a grandmother were cumulatively more difficult to deal with than she ever let on. There was also that short missed putt at year’s end that could have vaulted her to Rolex world No. 1 for the first time and led to her winning the Rolex Player of the Year title. She still won twice, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and was the Golf Writers Association of America Player of the Year.

    That’s a lot of peaks and valleys for a young soul.

    That’s the kind of year that can make you feel like an old soul in a hurry.

    So seeing a rules official approach her on Saturday, you wondered about Thompson gathering herself so quickly. You wondered what she was thinking stepping up and ripping her next shot 215 majestic yards, about her hitting the green and saving par. You wondered about how she  bounced back to birdie 13 and 14 and finish bogey free.

    With this week’s soul bearing, you wondered a lot about what rebounding like that meant to her.

    We’re left to wonder from afar, though, because she wasn’t asked any of those questions by local reporters afterward. The transcript showed three brief answers to three short questions, none about the penalty or the challenge she met.

    Of course, there were other questions to be asked, because local rules have been an issue this year. Did she read the local notes with the preferred lies explanation? She got hit with another local rules issue in Thailand this year, when she hit her ball near an advertising sign and moved the sign, not realizing a local rule made the sign a temporary immovable obstruction.

    Of course, there were other good stories in Indy, too, with Sung Hyun Park poised to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn and return to Rolex world No. 1, with Salas holding off Park so brilliantly down the stretch Saturday.

    Thompson, though, is the highest ranked American in the world. She’s the face of American women’s golf now. A face more tender, resolute and vulnerable than we have ever seen it.

    Folks along the ropes watching her on the back nine in Indy Saturday got to see that better than any of us.

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    Salas capitalizes on Park gaffe to take Indy lead

    By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 2:07 am

    INDIANAPOLIS – Lizette Salas waited patiently for Sung Hyun Park to make a rare mistake Saturday.

    When the South Korean mishit her approach shot into the water on the par-4 16th, Salas capitalized quickly.

    She rolled in her birdie putt then watched Park make double bogey – a three-shot swing that gave Salas the lead and the momentum heading into the final round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Salas closed out her 8-under 64 with a birdie on No. 18 to reach 21 under – two shots ahead of Park and Amy Yang.

    “I have been striking the ball really well, and I just had to stay patient,” Salas said. “And yeah, putts dropped for sure. I just really felt comfortable.”

    If she keeps it up one more day, Salas could be celebrating her first tour win since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship and her second overall. With five of the next six players on the leader board ranked in the world’s top 30, Salas knows it won’t be easy.

    The changing weather conditions weather might not help, either. If the forecast for mostly sunny conditions Sunday holds, the soft greens that have kept scores at near record-lows through the first three rounds could suddenly become quicker and less forgiving.

    But the 29-year-old Californian seems to have the perfect touch for this course, which weaves around and inside the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    She shot three sub-par rounds and finished tied for fifth last year here. This year, she has three more sub-par rounds including a course record-tying 62 on Thursday and has been atop the leader board each of the first three days.

    “I have been so confident the whole year,” Salas said. “I have a different mentality, I’m a different player. So I’m just going to go out and play as if I’m behind.”

    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

    Salas’ toughest challenge still could from Park, who spent most of Saturday flirting with a 54-hole scoring record.

    She birdied the last four holes on the front side and made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to reach 21 under with a chance to become the sixth LPGA player to ever finish three rounds at 23 under.

    The miscue at No. 16 changed everything.

    She never really recovered after dropping two shots, settling for par on the final two holes for a 66 after shooting 68 and 63 the first two days. Yang finished with a 65 after going 68 and 64.

    “I was a little weary with right-to-left wind,” Park said. “I think a little bit of weariness got to me, but overall, it’s OK.”

    Defending champion Lexi Thompson was five shots back after completing the final nine of the second round in 2 under 34 and shooting 64 in the afternoon.

    She made up ground despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty after hitting her tee shot on No. 10 into the sixth fairway and lifting the ball without authority. Rules officials had implemented the preferred lies rule because more than an inch of rain had doused the course.

    Thompson still made her par on the hole though it temporarily broke her momentum after making six birdies on the front nine in her first appearance since taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.

    “Twenty-seven holes, I definitely had a few tired swings toward the end,” said Thompson, who finished each of the first two rounds with 68s. “But overall, a lot of positives. I hit it great. I made some really good putts.”

    Three players – Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Mina Harigae – were tied at 15 under. Ko started the third round with a share of the lead but had three bogeys in a round of 70.

    Now, all Salas has to do is cash in one more time.

    “I’ve been knocking on the door quite a bit in the last four years, haven’t been able to get it done,” Salas said. “I’ve got good players behind me, I’ve just got to play my game.”