Weir-d Ruling: The Process that led to a birdie on 18 for Bright's Groves fave son

A lot of people are probably wondering what happened to Mike Weir on the 18th hole of his second round today. It was pretty odd — he was in the middle of the fairway, all lined up to fire his second at the green and then … nothing but a lot of talk.

Anyway, I spoke with Weir about it, and also discussed it with a rule official. All of this comes down to “lift, clean and cheat”  — the rule in place given the water that has fallen on Glen Abbey this week. Weir, like most PGA Tour players, uses the rule to the best of his advantage, and that includes finding a spot on the fairway that acts like a tee. Problem is that balls sometimes move, which led to today’s discussion. The whole issue fascinates me — so I wrote about it at length.

Weir finished the day 6-under and and 7 shots off the lead. Anyone think he could storm all the way back?

Here’s a taste of the column:

It might be the longest birdie of Mike Weir’s career “ only it was measured in minutes, and not feet.

Standing in the middle of the final hole at Glen Abbey Golf Club concluding his rain-delayed second round of the RBC Canadian Open, Weir did what all the other PGA Tour pros were doing “ he marked his ball, picked it up, cleaned it and found an exact spot on the grass that was slightly raised to put it back down. In common vernacular among tour pros, it is called “lift, clean, and cheat,” though there’s nothing illegal about what Weir was doing. Given the ultra-soggy conditions at the Abbey, the PGA Tour had little choice but to institute a rule allowing players to wipe their ball clean of mud or avoid standing water before hitting.

In Weir’s case, he was in the middle of the fairway and 5-under par for his round, having shot his way back into the tournament, despite playing three days of stop/start golf as thunder storms rolled through the Oakville. Storms left enough rain to make some consider heading to Home Depot to buy materials for an ark, but the PGA Tour soldiered on, meaning Weir was playing golf amidst puddles. His eagle on 16 had sent him back up the leaderboard, and a charge was within site. The throng of thousands around the 18th hushed in anticipation as Weir went through his typical waggle pre-shot routine. Just as he was ready to swing, he abruptly stopped. In a scene that certainly confounded most spectators sitting hundreds of yards away, Weir first called over his playing partners, then asked for a rules official. Much discussion ensued. Eventually he hit a shot with his hybrid from 228-yards to the middle of the green. Everyone seemed confused. What had happened? Had the ball moved? Was he putting for eagle or birdie? Two putts later it was even more murky. The scoreboard read that he had made par.
Weir retreated to the scorer’s booth, and more rules officials were called. The Canadian then went to the television tent to review video and try and determine what had happened. His scorecard went unsigned. A half hour later Weir came back to the scorer’s hut, signed for a card that included a birdie on the final hole, and walked down towards the clubhouse a happy man.”Probably the longest signature I’ve had to wait for,” he joked.

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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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