Mike Weir is the feel-good story of this week’s Farmers Insurance Open. While Tiger Woods captured the headlines, after firing a second-round 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead after 36 holes, and a drenched Phil Mickelson shook off lethargy and controversy to eke out a Saturday tee time, Weir made his first PGA Tour cut in some 18 months.
It’s been a long way back for the winner of the 2003 Masters, who began this season not even on the roster of the top 1,500 in the world rankings. Thanks to Thursday’s opening-round 66 on Torrey Pines’ North Course, Weir tiptoed into the weekend despite a ragged 75 on the more challenging South Course.
The 42-year-old from Canada had missed his last 17 cuts, including the 12 starts he made on tour in 2012 as well the one at last week’s Humana Challenge after making a triple-bogey on his last hole. Friday, though, while still not at full strength with a nagging elbow injury, and in the midst of some swing changes, he made the cut for the first time since the 2011 AT&T National.
“I'm almost there. I don't feel a hundred percent comfortable yet, but it's definitely getting a lot better,” Weir told reporters after Thursday’s round. “I'm happy with the progress I'm making. As golfers, you want it right away, but I've seen some good signs, so that's always positive.”
Weir credited his two daughters with helping him stay motivated.
“They see how hard I work,” Weir said of his girls, who were too young to appreciate his achievements when he was at the top of his game. “My girls are at an age now that they understand. The last time I played really well, they were pretty young, so I'd like to show them what their dad can do.”
As for Mickelson, who went all Tommy Gainey with his two rain gloves in the soaking conditions, he showed Friday why fans don’t call him “The Thrill” for nothing. At 3-under and, seemingly safely within the projected cut line of 1-under, he had a 189-yard second shot from the fairway to the 17th green.
Mickelson apologized earlier in the week for going “way right” with ill-considered gripes about the tax system, but this time, Lefty literally hooked it far and foul into the crowd behind the green. He managed to stick a wedge shot out of deep, sopping wet lettuce to some 20 feet from the pin but had to settle for a bogey.
On the par-5 18th, Mickelson skipped an 80-yard third shot off the green and into a green-side bunker, short-siding himself to the back, right pin. With little room in which to work his magic, he blasted out to within seven feet but again missed his par putt.
“My game’s just a little bit off. I’m throwing a lot of shots away, missing some short putts,” he told Golf Channel after carding a 71 to go with his first-round 72 and making the cut on the number. “I had a tough time holding on to the club today, with the water, grips kept getting slick. I had just a hard time holding so I had to grip a little tighter. I had two gloves out trying to just get a little better grip on it.”
Mickelson took confidence from the middle of his round, when he made four birdies in six holes, but said he was not comfortable with his set-up.
“Something’s just a fraction off that I’ve got to figure out,” he said before knowing whether he had made the cut. “I was playing so well just before, iron shots felt very easy, and right now they’re a bit of a struggle as far as directional and that hasn’t been an issue in a while.
“It’s just a fraction off and I’ll see if I can get it turned around here. Whether I make the cut or not, I’ll be working on it on the weekend and see if I can get ready for next week, too.”
Mickelson, who’ll play in the Phoenix Open starting on Thursday, will start his weekend 10 shots back of the red-hot Woods.