Weir takes it one at a time

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:15 AM ET

It was an artistic disaster, for sure.

But, as the old saying goes, there are no pictures on the scorecard.

Mike Weir scraped his golf ball around East Lake Country Club in Atlanta here yesterday in the first round of The Tour Championship and, when it was over, he signed for a 69 and ran like a thief.

"It's just comical the way I'm playing," Weir said. "To shoot 69, I'm really happy. But it was about as ugly as it gets. I wore out the left side of the golf course."

Since he hasn't been striking the ball with any purity, Weir decided to try to fade his driver on the longer holes, just for control.

"But the fade turned into a slice and I never recovered," he said.

Weir hit five of 14 fairways and his nine misses were all in the left rough. Anything off the fairway this week is a crapshoot. Normally at this time of year, East Lake's Bermuda rough is dormant and easy to hit out of. Because the weather has been warm and damp, the rough is wiry and tough and unpredictable.

"Sometimes it sits up just as if it's on a tee," Weir said. "Other times, it slides to the bottom and is almost impossible to move. If I keep hitting it in there as often as I did (yesterday), maybe I'll figure it out."

FIRST CUT

Canada's other entry, Stephen Ames of Calgary, also shot 69 in a more conventional fashion. He, too, missed a few fairways but most of his misses were in the first cut, which was the best of both worlds.

By hitting it on the margins of the fairways, he was able to keep it clear of the unpredictable deep rough, while avoiding, at least some of the time, the inevitable mud on the balls from the wet fairways.

Ames cobbled together a round of four birdies and three bogeys.

Weir's success was predicated on his putter, which has been the only part of his game recently worth talking about. That is ironic, given the fact that if he had been able to putt with any consistency at all at the Canadian Open, he would have become the first Canadian to win that title in 50 years.

"And I would have done it with ease," he said. "But that's just the way things have been going. I haven't been able to put everything together since the spring.

"I managed to make some putts and get up and down from a few bunkers, but I've got to figure out something (for today).

Weir has been groping for that special something all season, so it's unlikely he discovered any magic on the practice tee in an hour yesterday afternoon. But he might be able to discover something that will get him through today's second round.

"That's what it amount to right now: Finding something, anything to survive the day. I'm here to try to win this thing any way I can."

The PGA Tour's tall thinkers originally had decided to play lift-clean, but when the weather cleared up they changed their minds.

"I was very surprised we played the ball down," Weir said. "The few times I was in the fairway, there was a lot of mud on the ball. I guess they didn't want people touching the ball in the last tournament of the year, a prestige event like The Tour Championship."

It wouldn't have helped Weir all that much because he wasn't often in the fairway, the only place where lift-clean applies.

Balls that land in the rough cannot be touched.

"This is just a continuation of the way things have been going for me this year," he said. "In all honesty, I haven't felt comfortable at any time, even when I won in LA. I just got the ball up and down from everywhere that week.

"Throughout the year I was able to pull something together from time to time to get me through a tournament. At the Canadian Open, I had a great ball-striking week and I have no idea where that came from because it wasn't there before or after."

He isn't discounting that as a possibility this weekend. He found a way to make a decent number and fully intends to find something to get him through today.

Tomorrow?

"That's not even on the radar, yet," he said.


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