Weir gets left behind

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

The final round of The Tour Championship unfolded exactly as Mike Weir had hoped, with one small variation.

With Tiger Woods and Jay Haas sharing a commanding four-shot lead heading into yesterday, Weir knew it would take a special round at Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club to overcome either or both of them.

And that's what happened. The problem for Weir? It was his playing partner, Retief Goosen, who was special, not himself.

Goosen stormed from behind with a closing 64 not only to win, but to win easily against evaporating competition. Woods shot 72 and Haas shot 75. In the end, Goosen won by four strokes.

Jerry Kelly also came from far back with a 65 to grab third place, while Weir, Stephen Ames and Mark Hensby collected $248,000 US each for a third-place tie.

"It was there for me," said Weir, who shot an uninspired round of level par 70. "I had a lot of putts that didn't fall. But I have to be honest, it would have been tough to catch Retief the way he was playing."

THREE BIRDIES AND AN EAGLE

Ames, like Weir, had difficulty gathering any sustained momentum despite making three birdies and an eagle. It was one step forward and two steps backward all afternoon.

Woods has not won a stroke-play tournament in 14 months and had his reputation for closing the deal tarnished. He had won his 11 previous tournaments in which he held or shared the lead after 54 holes, a streak that went back to the 2000 Tour Championship played on this same golf course.

Woods has been working on swing changes and while he still won more than $5 million in purse money, he has not dominated as he used to.

"This was a big week for me," Woods said. "I put together a stretch of good golf that I hadn't been able to do. Yes, it didn't work out and that bothers me, but I'm more comfortable on the golf course than I've been all year."

Unlike most of his competitors who are winding down for the off-season, Woods is going to maintain a busy schedule of tournaments in Asia in November and then finish his year off at the Target World Challenge in California in December.

Weir came to Atlanta with few expectations for the week because of inconsistencies in his game but still found a way to compete.

"I'm not playing particularly well, but I was able to manage my game to stay in touch," he said.

Weir now is headed for a couple weeks of vacation and then will spend the next six weeks breaking down and reassembling his game with coach Mike Wilson.

"I'm really looking forward to getting a lot of work done on things that have been bothering my game ever since the spring," Weir said. "I'm really confident I can come back in January and build a strong season."

Ames, of Calgary, is heading to Trinidad for his annual visit with parents and friends coming off his finest season as a pro. He finished eighth on the money list with $3,303,205 in winnings.

Weir ended in 14th spot, with $2,761,536.


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