Weir's in a hole

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

When the weather turns sour, as it has this week in Southern California, the best a golfer can hope for is to survive. "All I'm trying to do is hang around the lead," said Weir. For most of a difficult day, he succeeded by guts and by guile. But the difference between a solid round of golf and something well less than that is minuscule.

"When I look back on it, it comes down to a matter of one foot," he said at the end of a disappointing round of 73, that leaves him at two-under-par 140 after 36 holes of the Nissan Open.

That one foot was how far off the left side of the fairway his drive at the 13th wandered. He parlayed that mistake into a disastrous triple-bogey seven that dropped him off the leaderboard like a stone. When he hit his tee shot on 13, he was two shots off the lead. By the end of the round, he was seven back.

The disaster all started with a rare missed fairway on the 460-yard par-four that plays into the prevailing wind. Faced with thick rough, mere inches off the fairway, he punched out to a layup position about 95 yards short of the pin. Unfortunately, his pitch went long, into the rough behind the green. He hit his fourth shot onto the green, five feet from the pin, but dangerously above the hole. His first putt slid slid three feet below the hole. He missed the comeback putt, then tapped in for triple.

On that same hole last year in the third round, Weir hit a similar drive that, instead of bouncing into the rough, stayed about a foot in the fairway. From there he hit an amazing cut three-wood to a protected green and sank the putt for birdie.

"That's the difference," he said. "A foot in the fairway and I make birdie that time. A foot in the rough and I make triple today."

It was more than that, obviously, but to Weir that's what it seemed. He has been hitting the ball so purely for the last few weeks. Even though his putting still isn't up to the standards of two years ago, his overall game is as good as anyone's right now, with one notable exception.

"My short game is just not very sharp at all right now. I've got to go to work on it. I kind of drove the ball mediocre. Not quite as good as yesterday. But the real problem is that I'm not getting the ball up and down at all, and that's been frustrating. It's one of my strengths," he said.

With half the field still on the course this morning completing their second rounds, Weir won't be on course until later this afternoon, if at all. More bad weather is expected today and rain delays are probably in the cards.

"I really need to play a good round (today), or whenever I get back out there," he said. "After that (triple bogey) I just told myself I needed a couple of birdies coming in to get back to four or five under, I'd be in good shape. I hit it close on 16 and burned the edge and then birdied 17."

But abogey at 18 left him far off the lead so he'll have plenty of ground to make up.

Weir's collapse came after some outstanding play earlier in the round. The highlights included a roundhouse 75-foot putt at the par three sixth hole that settled about two feet from the hole and a drive at the short par-four 10th that almost went in the cup, 272 yards away.

Weir was asked if he had ever aced a par-four.

"About 15 years ago, playing with my wife at a little muni course," he said. And, of course, he bought her a drink afterward, as he did after both his wins at the Nissan the last two years.

But unless Weir is able to bear down and take Riviera apart today and tomorrow, there won't be any champagne this time around. One triple bogey doesn't eliminate a guy from winning (see Singh, Vijay: 2004 Canadian Open) as Weir himself knows so painfully.

"I just have to regroup and keep doing the things that have been working the past two weeks," he said. "It's not over. Not by a long shot."


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