Major disappointment for Weir

Mike Weir watches his tee shot on the par 3 5th hole during the 2011 US Open Sectional in Columbus,...

Mike Weir watches his tee shot on the par 3 5th hole during the 2011 US Open Sectional in Columbus, Ohio on Monday. (QMI Agency/Mike Munden)

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:31 PM ET

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Mike Weir's streak of 48 consecutive majors came to an end Monday.

Weir got off to a bad start, hitting a tree on his first shot of the U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Brookside Country Club. The ball disappeared in spite of the efforts of a large search party -- it was to be that sort of day for Weir.

"Unbelievable," Weir said as he hopped onto a cart for a ride back to the tee to hit another ball on a day that turned out to be rather forgettable.

After playing his first nine holes at seven-over-par, the Bright's Grove native settled down but still struggled to a 36-hole score of eight-over, well off the winning tally of 12-under by 2008 Canadian Open champ Chez Reavie.

"I didn't think much about (the streak)," a clearly disappointed Weir said following his final 18 at the Lakes Golf Club. "It's a bit of an obscure stat. I try to play to win, not just to play."

But on this day, Weir just played -- and not well.

He struggled off the tee, losing the ball on both sides, a couple of times berating himself for errant drives.

After missing the cut at the Memorial Tournament with a two-day score of 158 on Thursday and Friday, he worked on the range in preparation for the nearby Open qualifier, but something clearly is amiss with his swing.

The lefty has gone from being one of the most consistent PGA players to having the worst scoring average on tour by more than a stroke and a half (74.93, with Derek Lamely next at 73.29). He also has lost his caddie this season and has been enlisting the help of several swing doctors, attempting to figure out what's going on.

"I've gone from coach to coach, listening to what each one has to say," Weir said Monday. "It's hard to play when you haven't decided which way you're going to go."

Weir, who constantly was doing drills before and after shots during Monday's round, seems to know what is wrong with his game but he's at a loss for how to fix it.

"I've got this back tilt bad habit that I got into last year and I just don't know how to stop it," he said.

Weir's problems seem to be rooted in his head as well.

"I need to find something to fix it that's simple in my mind," he said of his season-long slump (one cut made on the PGA Tour in 12 starts).

Weir played, and was beaten by, tour player Brendon De Jonge and collegiate golfer Manuel Villegas, the younger brother of Camilo, who breezed into the tournament late to caddie and then left his little brother holding the bag when he had to catch a flight midway through his second 18.

Weir had 17-year-old local Malachi Zeitner looping for him, which was ironic because Camilo Villegas just hired Weir's longtime caddie Brennan Little of St. Thomas.

Still, Weir is looking on the bright side of a season that has been pretty bleak.

"I was hitting my driver well, I mean plenty long enough," he said, looking for some sort of positive.

So what's next for the 2003 Masters champ?

Weir said he has asked for an exemption into the Travelers Championship the week after the U.S. Open, but hasn't heard. If that doesn't happen, his next action will be July 30 at the AT&T National.

His strategy remains the same as it has been all season.

"I just have to keep grinding it out," he said.

tim.mckay@sunmedia.ca


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