Anyone want it?
By ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun
HOUSTON -- The way his day began, Mike Weir made his bid for PGA Tour player of the year seem like it might just be a slam dunk. By the time he made the turn in the first round of the Tour Championship yesterday, it was clanking off the rim.
The two favourites for the title, Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods, had their own struggles too. So, now what?
Likable veteran Kenny Perry, whose 67 over the par-71 Champions Course earned him a share of first-round lead with Charles Howell, had as lame a solution as yesterday's play offered.
"Why can't there be co-players of the year?" said Perry, who beat his playing partner Weir by five strokes. "Why does it have to be one guy?
"Tiger is going to win the Vardon Trophy (for stroke average), He has won five (tournaments). If I win here, I've won four. Vijay is going to win the money title, probably, and Mike Weir's won the Masters.
"It's just an honour for me to be associated with these guys. I'm probably the feel-good story of the year."
The main contenders in the hotly debated race weren't feeling nearly so chipper. And the feeling was empty for those who hoped the first round would start to clear up the POY picture.
Weir struggled to his 72. Woods bogeyed the last for a one-under 70 after a sizzling start. And Singh was never in it, kicking it around for a two-over 73.
None were in a particularly cheery mood after, either. Weir and Singh hustled to the practice range before darkness fell and Woods quickly changed into his workout gear to vent in a different way.
During a brief Q and A with reporters, Woods was asked if he had been planning to pump iron, anyway. "Yeah, but it might be a little bit heavier this time," he said.
There will be some heavy lifting required over the next three days if they are to get back into the tournament, though Woods can be expected to make a big move soon.
A predictably crowded leaderboard given the field was limited to the top 31 players, Woods has the best of those three, sitting in a tie for 13th. Weir, meanwhile, has a share of 21st while Singh is better than just six others in the field.
It didn't start out so grim for Weir. He rapped a 50-foot putt for birdie on the first that appeared to be steaming past the hole. Instead, it banged off the back lip, hopped inches in the air and slammed into the bottom of the cup.
When he made a 30-footer on the next hole, the Canadian lefty was two-under and atop the leaderboard. Weir was still two-under when he got to the par-5 ninth where things started to unravel.
A decent drive landed in a divot, but with a 4-iron in his hands, reaching the green was still possible. Instead, he pushed into a bunker at the front of one of the many football-sized greens where more bad news was waiting.
"Someone half-assed raked it and I was in a heel print," Weir said. "Those bad breaks can hurt."
This one did. His bunker shot sailed past the pin and into the rough and, a chip and two putts later, he was stuck with what had to feel like an unconsciable bogey.
Throw in a trifecta of three-putts and Weir's scoring opportunities were long gone.
"I could have hit all three in two and I play them one over," Weir said of the trio of par 5s at Champions, all of which were playing downwind. "I should have been two or three under on those and it would be a different story."
Singh's sorry story was written on the grainy greens as well, which left him with 38 putts. Paired with Woods, the two barely acknowledged each other, the way Singh wanted it.
"I didn't let it bother me," Singh said. "I told my caddy: 'Let's just play another round of golf and don't get yourself involved in any of that. Stay away from him and just do your own thing.' "
Yesterday, his own thing wasn't enough. Luckily for Singh, who is still the one to catch in this race within a tournament, neither was Woods.