It's all on the lineWeir faces tough task, but with his will there could be a way
By KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun
ANCASTER -- There is a line, so fine that it essentially is invisible, separating very good from very ordinary at high-pressure golf tournaments such as the Canadian Open.
So far these past three days, Mike Weir has tiptoed along that line like one of the Wallendas, forever looking like he's going to crash yet somehow able to maintain his balance.
After back-to-back rounds of 69, Weir somehow managed an even-par 70 yesterday, willing the ball into the hole even though he couldn't get most of his clubs to behave.
"No matter what, if you're playing well, or not hitting it too well like I was, you're going to struggle on some of those holes out there just because of the course conditions and the wind," Weir said.
"It's playing like a national championship should. You're not going to play perfect golf. I'd like to play a little bit better (today) but, on the other hand, I held in there really well, made a lot of putts. That round could easily have been 75. I managed to salvage a 70 and stay in the tournament."
Right from the first hole, it was clear that Weir's putter would have to be his best club this day, and it was. He made three consecutive par-saves, canning putts of seven feet, 10 feet and six feet, before he was able to make an eight-footer for birdie at the par-5 fourth.
Later on, he made a 12-footer for par at the eighth and another 12-footer for birdie at the 10th. It went like that all over the golf course.
When he short-sided himself in the greenside rough at 18, he failed for one of the few times to get up and down, finishing with a bogey.
"It's a grind," he said. "I had to stay with it. I kept telling myself: 'This is what I have today. I can't do anything about it.' I'm trying to hit it down the middle, I'm trying to hit good shots but it's not happening. I had to rely on my short game and, luckily, I had a good one."
So, he finds himself in a very familiar position, forced to come from off the pace to win the one tournament that means so much to him and, clearly, to so many of his fans. This whole week has been a Mike Weir celebration by the fans. Rather than treating it as unbearable pressure, Weir has embraced the adulation.
"It's great to have tons of support out there," he said. "It helps me stay focused. I'm trying to battle for them. Hopefully I have one good round in me for them (today)."
That will only happen if he can get his longer clubs to keep the ball in the fairway, a task that has eluded him so far this tournament and, really, for the past two months.
Yesterday he hit 10 of 18 greens in regulation and only seven of 14 fairways. With rough as penal as that at Hamilton Golf and Country Club, that's flirting with disaster.
"Really, since the British Open I've been struggling with my ball-striking," he said. "I feel like I'm overdue to have a good ball-striking round. I haven't put it together in the past few tournaments."
The way the golf course is playing, it will not favour a player in search of his swing. Much as he did at the PGA Championship, Weir has cobbled together three decent rounds with a game held together by chewing gum and binder twine.
Almost everything he has accomplished here has been as a result of a marvellous short game combined with an iron-willed determination to repay his fans for their devotion.
"Hopefully I won't have to put so much heat on myself (today). We'll see what's going on. If I can shoot five or six under (today), that's probably going to be pretty good.
"If I can get off to a good start, I can turn this thing around."
He sounded like a man on a mission. Of course, he always sounds like that because he believes so absolutely in his ability to win against any odds. That burning desire is what makes his game greater than the sum of all its parts.
Right now, a few of those parts have gone missing but the will is as strong, probably stronger, than it ever has been.
Mike Weir's in tough today, no question.
But if we've learned anything over the past few years, it is to never sell him short. He has a way of always finding the right side of that fine line.