Weir's game not in best shape

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

It's down to crunch time for Mike Weir.

Weir's roller-coaster season on the PGA Tour has left him sitting just outside the cut line for the prestigious Tour Championship, a tournament Weir won five years ago.

Once again yesterday, Weir failed to fire in the final round at the Funai Classic in Orlando, shooting a leisurely round of 72 while all around him players on the leaderboard were going low. Winner Joe Durant jumped from 66th spot into the Top 30 with his winner's share of $828,000 US, bringing his season total to nearly $2.1 million.

Weir started the day tied for 14th and in position to make a run into the top 10 with a decent round. Instead, he dropped 15 spots to finish in a tie for 30th.

For Weir, the implications of a berth in the Tour Championship are far reaching, a sort of domino effect that could be felt during the Presidents Cup next autumn in Montreal.

Final chance

At $1,843,268 in winnings this year, Weir sits in 32nd place on the season money list but only the top 30 are included in the $6.5-million Tour Championship to be held in two weeks time in Atlanta.

Weir has changed his schedule to play in next week's Chrysler Championship in Tampa, his final chance to squeeze into the Tour Championship field.

To do that, he'll likely need to win about $125,000 next weekend, presuming that none of the players close to him in the money standings has a better week than does he. It should be noted that even though Phil Mickelson has declared his intention not to attend, the 31st player is not automatically moved into the field. They'll go with the Top 29.

The Tour Championship is an important goal for Weir for several reasons, most importantly the accumulation of Sony World Golf Ranking points. The world golf rankings form the qualifying basis for the International Team at the Presidents Cup, a team that Weir has been part of in each of the past three Presidents Cups. In those three Presidents Cups, only Retief Goosen has won more matches (nine) for the International side than Weir (eight).

Currently, Weir sits in 16th place on the hotly contested Presidents Cup qualifying list. The standings are so close that a high finish in any tournament will move him up a few places. Only the top 10 qualify automatically. Anybody who finishes outside that best 10 will have to hope to be selected as one of Gary Player's two captain's picks.

Now, as long as Weir is upright next September, he'll be a front-runner to be one of Player's picks, since the event is being held in Canada, at Royal Montreal.

Charity

But knowing Weir, that kind of perceived charity selection will not sit well. The Sarnia native will do everything within his power to qualify straight up.

The Tour Championship, with its short, stellar field, provides not only an opportunity to pad the bank account but it also carries more world ranking points than your average tournament.

As recently as a couple of months ago, Weir seemed a shoo-in to finish well inside the top 30 money earners. Problem is, he missed two cuts, including the Canadian Open, and had to withdraw from another tournament after injuring his back at the World Match Play Championships in England.

So often this year, Weir has seemed poised to contend on Sunday but has not been able to put up the final round numbers. Statistics bear out this impression.

Heading into yesterday's final round in Orlando, Weir was 174th on Tour in final round scoring average this year, using an average of 72.53 shots on Sunday. Last year, it was a similar story when he finished 160th in that stat with an average of 72.17. In 2004, he ranked 123rd in that category.

At times this year, he has putted brilliantly. At other times his ball-striking has been at a level comparable to his best season, 2003. Unfortunately, seldom -- perhaps never -- has his entire game converged in a single week during this past season. If it doesn't happen next weekend, then you can expect a long off-season of serious introspection for Weir.


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