Weir's flat stick goes AWOL

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

If you believe the old adage that "adversity that doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger" then you'd have to believe Mike Weir will soon enough rejoin the ranks of the world's great putters. Or die trying.

Let's put it this way -- he couldn't possibly get any worse than he was this week at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic here in La Quinta, Calif.

On his way to a four-round score of four-under-par and missing the cut by eight shots, Weir used a tournament-worst 128 putts.

For comparison's sake, the tournament leader, Joe Ogilvie, has used just 106 putts to get to 26-under-par going into today's final round.

More comparisons.

When Weir won the Nissan Open last February, his most recent PGA Tour win, he used just 99 putts over 72 holes.

"I can't remember putting worse in my life," he said moments after coming off the 18th green at PGA West yesterday, on his way home to Utah. "I just hope that's behind me."

The silver lining in this cloud was that he finished yesterday's fourth round with four consecutive birdies, making putts of five feet, eight feet, 10 feet and two feet in the process.

"It was good to find at least something to take into next week," Weir said. "I was striking it well all week and it was good to see some putts finally go in. I hadn't seen even one of those all week."

Weir has been tinkering with his putting stroke this winter and obviously is not yet comfortable with the changes.

"It's a mechanical flaw right now," he said. "I felt like the ball was rolling a lot better today for me. My speed was off and my concentration probably wasn't what it should be but that tends to happen when you're out of it.

"Having made the putting changes, it's good that I'm going to be out here playing a bunch of tournaments in a row to get them grooved."

At times last season, when he was struggling with the putter, he would leave it in his bag and putt with a wedge. He resisted the urge to do that this week.

"I was thinking about bringing out my 3-iron (to putt with) a couple of holes but I forced myself to stay with the putter. Last year I just didn't have any idea. At least today I knew what I was trying to work on."

Ogilvie, looking for his first PGA Tour win, shot a round of 69 yesterday to go with scores of 64, 63 and 66. He leads Aussie Peter Lonard by two shots and American Justin Leonard by three. South African Tim Clark is another shot behind at 22 under.

"I think anybody who's at 20 under or better has a chance to win," Lonard said. "We all know that somebody's going to take it low, again. It's just the way this tournament is."

Calgary's Stephen Ames, who delivered a seven-under-par 65 yesterday, will be the only Canadian in the field for the final round.

He is at 15 under, 11 shots behind Ogilvie. Selkirk, Manitoba's Glen Hnatiuk, making his return to the Tour after nine months recovering from elbow surgery, also missed the cut, at one under.

If Weir thinks things are bad, he need only check out David Duval's tournament for solace.

Duval, who finished dead last at 30-over-par -- a mind-boggling 56 shots behind the leader -- was 19 strokes worse than Lanny Wadkins, who finished next-to-last.

114 PUTTS

Now, here is the most curious stat: Duval used just 114 putts, 14 fewer than Weir, yet Weir finished 34 strokes better than Duval. What a ball-striking week Duval must have had.

Duval, who shot a final round 59 to win this tournament six years ago, shot 49 on the back nine in Friday's third round.


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