Weir's game has fallen apart

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:22 PM ET

Having found no answers to what ails him on this continent, Mike Weir will now seek solace at the birthplace of golf.

Mired in the worst slump of his career, at least since he came to prominence on the PGA Tour, Weir missed his fifth cut in his past six tournaments yesterday at the Cialis Western Open.

Next stop, Scotland.

Whether or not Weir can turn things around in time to make some noise at the British Open in two weeks at The Old Course in St. Andrews is doubtful. He hasn't broken 70 in nearly two months. What began as a balky putter has now infected his entire game.

Weir shot consecutive 74s at Cog Hill and missed the cut by three shots. Yesterday's erratic round perhaps was typical of how things have gone for him much of this year.

He began the day at three-over par. Quickly, however, he rattled off three birdies in his first six holes to claw his way back to even par. He stayed at that level through his first nine holes, hitting seven drives on the fairways, averaging more than 290 yards per drive. Even though he missed the greens on both par threes, he got up and down both times from greenside bunkers. He even made a couple of longish birdie putts.

But, as soon as he turned, the wheels came off. Six holes into his back nine, he had given it all back and then some, with four bogeys. One late, meaningless birdie left him right where he had started, which was no where.

One of Weir's driving ambitions always has been the Presidents Cup. He has used this unique match-play tournament as motivation in the past and always has played well there.

He began this season as a shoo-in for this year's renewal in September in Virginia but his position steadily has eroded and now he faces some stiff competition just to make the team. Currently, he is the seventh-ranked international player. The top 10-ranked players as of the PGA Championship win automatic spots on the team while two more players will be named by captain Gary Player.

Weir is just fractionally ahead of U.S. Open champ Michael Campbell of New Zealand, Aussie Nick O'Hern and South African Tim Clark. Peter Lonard, Shigeki Maruyama and fellow Canadian Stephen Ames also are stalking Weir.

Unless Weir can somehow get his game back together in the next month or so, some or all of these players may pass him like he's standing still. Off his form, Weir can hardly expect to be selected by Player as a captain's pick.

Weir has eight PGA Tour wins under his belt but only one victory (the 2004 Nissan) since he won the 2003 Masters. That's one win in his past 50 tournaments.

At times during the intervening two-plus years, he has shown flashes of his old precision but mostly his game has been consistently inconsistent. Even Weir's putter, a staple of his game even in the lean times, has betrayed him. In 2003, Weir was third on tour in scoring average at 68.97. In 2005, he nearly is three strokes worse than that and has a streak of 15 consecutive rounds of 70 or worse. His last round in the 60s was the second round of the Masters.

Over the years, Weir has remained steadfastly loyal to the people who have been around him through his rise to the elite level. Mike Wilson has been his swing coach since 1996. Dr. Rich Gordin has been Weir's sports psychologist since 1997.

But now that he is deep into what can only be described as a slump, it may be time to have some fresh eyes and fresh ideas in his camp. Unlike many players who engage one coach for the golf swing, another for the short game and yet another for putting, Weir has put his faith in Wilson for anything to do with his golf technique.

And while Gordin obviously has served Weir well in the past, it may be time for someone with a different approach in that area as well.

Weir, being Weir, will reject such a discussion. These are his people, after all, and Weir is the kind of guy who stands by his people through the good times and the bad.

It's hard not to think back to 2002 when Weir struggled and decided in the off-season to simply start enjoying the game he loves, rather than striving to be perfect.

It led to his best year ever, in 2003. Maybe the same strategy could work again.


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