Mike Weir’s drive to repeat refuses to fade

by Cam Cole

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Voices from behind you at the Augusta National Golf Club’s scenic practice range Monday: “Who’s that lefty talking to Freddie Couples’s caddy?”

“I don’t know. Is it Horschel?”

“Horschel’s a righty.”

“Looks like him, though.”

You resist the urge to turn and say: “Mike Weir.” Let them figure it out.

Now watching the putting green, where the 44-year-old Canadian is working with extraordinary focus on his setup and deliberate practice stroke — one-two, one-two — another voice: “Does he still do that (exaggerated waggle) before his swing where he takes the club halfway back?”

His companion: “I don’t know. He’d have to be on TV for me to know, and to be on TV he’d have to make a cut.”

Sigh.

From there it’s off to the first tee for a practice round with Zach Johnson and Brian Harman. A smattering of applause, and Weir hits his tee shot low-ish and right, in the fairway but short of the bunker. Johnson, who is not long, drives it to the top of the hill 25 or 30 yards past him.

Weir hits a nice iron shot that stays on the back tier, where the flag is, and his slick 40-footer for birdie, beautifully judged, just oozes past the low side of the cup. There is no crowd to speak of around the green — just a few dozen people, on a day when (although no figures are ever released) there must be 50,000-plus on the grounds.

And so it goes for the 2003 Masters champion, who dwells these days on the margins of the PGA Tour, accepting sponsors’ invites, withdrawing now and then with a tweaked elbow or forearm or hand or neck or ribs. Still searching, still hoping, still outwardly upbeat.

“I’m still motivated. I still love the game, still love competing,” he said, having cut his practice to just nine holes, hoping to save wear and tear on the right elbow.

“It sucks getting old,” he said with a grin. “Can’t escape it.

“I feel like if I get things in order, I can still compete at the highest level. I think I’d know if I’m not able to. I still believe that in my head, and it’s just frustrating not to be able to translate it to my game yet.”

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