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Weir at Riviera: "Painful to Watch"

Mike Weir Presidents Cup

LA resident and golf blogger/author/man about town Geoff Shackelford is at Riviera this week. Yesterday he spent much of the day following the group that included Geoff Ogilvy and Mike Weir. Ogilvy played well, and Weir did as well, at least until a bogey/double-bogey combo on the 16th and the 17th derailed his day. But it wasn’t the quality of his play that Shackelford commented on in regards to Canada’s favourite son — it was his pace of play:

I tagged along for 11 holes of Ogilvy’s round and his game appeared quite sharp. More alarming was the play
Mike Weir and caddy (click to enlarge) of partner Mike Weir, a two-time winner at Riviera who I’ve watched many times over the years. However, I had not actually followed him recently and while I love the look of his Stack and Tilt swing, everything that happens right up to pulling the trigger is painful to watch. His caddy is constantly asking marshal’s to move and his Monty-like ability to hear all sounds leads to constant restarting of his pre-shot routine. Weir won’t even pull his driver on obvious driver holes until his caddy rests the bag down next to the teeing position.
And they wonder why it was well over 5 hours in the afternoon for the field to finish. Well, most of the field.

Shackelford could well be right — but I didn’t notice it while watching Weir in Hawaii earlier this year because the cuts usually came as he was ready to hit his shot, not before. He is a very deliberate player — and it would be interesting if the mechanical elements of his swing are actually slowing him down now.

Weir pops up again in an article in the LA Times about the joys of the 10th hole at Riviera, clearly one of the world’s great short par-4s.

The 10th green sits enticingly 315 yards from a slightly elevated tee at Riviera Country Club. Sure, it’s heavily guarded by four deep bunkers. And it’s a sliver of a putting surface not quite as wide as a mat at your local driving range. But that doesn’t keep most players these days from pulling out a driver and going for it off the tee.

It’s alluring. It’s precarious. It’s a hole many PGA Tour players say is among their favorites anywhere, a seemingly docile birdie hole that can become a bogey hole as quickly as you can say, “Oh, no, don’t go right!”

Weir’s play in the article is contrasted with Phil Mickelson. Not shockingly, Weir plays the hole more conservatively.

The safer play off the tee is to hit an iron or fairway wood toward the left side of a wide fairway, leaving a lob wedge that a player can hit down the length of the green. That’s what Mike Weir did in 2003 when he defeated Charles Howell III in a playoff on No. 10. Weir played to the middle of the fairway, hit an approach eight feet from the pin and made the birdie putt. Howell had driven into the far right greenside bunker, somehow managed to blast out to six feet but missed the putt.

Weir recently told me that Howell was lucky the ball ended up in the bunker — otherwise he’d have been in the rough with no chance.

The article can be found here. Golf architect Ian Andrew has a post on the greatness of Riviera here.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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