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March 25, 2010

Mike Weir


JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome Mike Weir in the interview room after a 5-under par 67. Even par through 11 holes but turned it on down the stretch. Just get your comments on the day.
MIKE WEIR: Yeah, ended up being a great day. I started off, I actually made a couple of birdies on 5 and 6. I hit a nice shot into 5 to about 12 feet and made that one. Hit the green in two on 6 and 2-putted that.
And then I kind of got a little scrappy from 9 through 11. I hit it in the green-side bunker on 9, didn't get it up-and-down.
10, kind of scrambled a little bit and saved par.
11, I hit it in the rough. So things were not going great through that stretch.
But where it kind of turned around was 12. I hit a great -- really nice drive, kind of bad bounce that went in the fairway bunker but hit a rescue club out of the bunker to 20 feet for eagle and 2-putted that. Followed that up with a nice wedge to the next hole to about five feet probably, four feet the next hole and made birdie.
And then 15, I hit a drive and a 7-iron to probably 20 feet, made that.
16 was playing well into the wind, hit a good drive but couldn't reach the green, laid it up and hit another nice wedge, probably about ten feet and made a bomb on 17. Made about a 50 footer from the left edge of the green on 17.
So it wasn't looking good in the middle of the round. It was looking like an average round, but a few fortunate things, turned into a really good round.

Q. Curious the last time you reached a par 5 in two out of the bunker, fairway bunker.
MIKE WEIR: Yeah, that's not my game, normally. (Laughter) But I had a nice lie, and you know was just one of those ones that was downwind enough and thought if I could just get some good contact at it, the wind was helping it, straight downwind and just bounced up there. But yeah, not very often, Doug. Can't remember the last time.

Q. That wasn't a slight. I was just making an obvious fact. Good shot?
MIKE WEIR: Thanks.

Q. There was a span for a while when you were not coming here and I think you said Arnold appealed to you personally. Was that at an Augusta dinner, if you could recap the conversation. I imagine he's not a guy that's easy to say no to?
MIKE WEIR: It was actually when I played the Hope probably two or three years ago, probably three years ago I think. I was at the Tradition Golf Club with a buddy, and Arnie was in the locker room and I said, "Hey, Mr. Palmer, how you doing."
And first thing he said was, "You haven't played my tournament in a few years." Didn't say hello. (Laughter) First thing he said, "You haven't played my tournament in a few years."
I said, "No, I haven't."
He said, "Hey, Mike, I would love to have you come play." So with that, you know for a few years there, it was really hard on a medium-length hitter. The greens were so firm; wedge shots were bouncing as high as this tent. I remember hitting shots into 15 and 17, and I mean, it was just, you know, that's why I think Tiger did so well through those years because he hit it so high.
So it just wasn't a great setup for me; even as much as I loved the tournament, I didn't see the point if I couldn't contend. But I think he's done a nice job blending that back; that, you know, a medium-length player who plays well and manage a round and hit some shots now can score now.

Q. Not that you ever go to an event and be there to prepare for Augusta, but as a past champ, when do you start thinking about it and try to build, and how do you use tournaments to try to be ready for it?
MIKE WEIR: My theory on that is that I probably won't think about it until the week is over. I'm not really thinking about Augusta yet. I'm trying to do well this week. I think the best preparation is just playing well, gaining confident going in there and trying to do your best at the events kind of leading up, because you want to be confident going in there.
If you're marginal on your game, or if you have a few question marks on your game, it gets exposed at Augusta more than anywhere. But you just want to have confidence building into there, so I think the best remedy for that just playing well.

Q. Does a good or bad performance here drastically change something you would do before getting there?
MIKE WEIR: I guess it depends what it is. I mean, you know, if things were not going well on the greens or if you were not driving it well -- I mean, Augusta has become a golf course that you have to drive it great now. You can't spray it around there.
You miss fairways out there, you're coming out of the light collar rough that they have out there onto those greens, you're going to struggle. Especially now this year with the grooves and everything.
So you have to drive it well. You have to do everything there. You just kind of assess how your game is and next week, I'll have the week off, I'll work on what I need to, and get ready.

Q. Are you feeling any good karma about this year's Masters, given the last time there was a circus going into the tournament was 2003?
MIKE WEIR: Yeah, that's true. (Laughter) That was, that was true.
Yeah, I feel good about my game. I haven't quite put four rounds together. I think I've been trying a little hard to tell you the truth, too hard the last couple of weeks, I played Honda and Doral, I've been right in good position going into the weekend and probably just wanting it too much that I haven't been letting it happen. I've been fighting myself a little bit. Get off to a nice start today and see if I can put four rounds together.

Q. I was half-joking about that Martha stuff, but you were an accomplished player at the time, I think you won Riviera at the time and a World Golf Championships, you had won a TOUR Championship, etc., but there was so much frenzy over the female membership issue. Can you see any similarities this year when there's kind of a singular focus on the tournament going in; that guys who might be looked upon as contender, what-have-you, don't have to deal with any of the pre tournament hype, and does that help?
MIKE WEIR: I would say there's some truth to that for sure. I mean, going into 2003, I don't think anybody was playing any better. I had won twice. I think I had finished second or third at AT&T. I was in contention, it seemed like every week I was playing great golf. I was hardly asked a question before the tournament started.
So for me going in that week was kind of under the radar. We actually got rained out Thursday, so that was a big kind of kerfuffle with all of the -- just trying to get your practice in; and it just seemed Thursday after we did get rained out and they let us practice, it was kind of a serene feeling because no one was around. Everybody had left for the day; yet we were practicing on a tournament day.
It was just kind of odd. And just kind of scrambling to play as many holes as we could Friday and Saturday. So it was a totally different feel to that event. So there's some truth to that, when there's a singular focus like this year, going under the radar, obviously not one of the favorites in a lot of peoples' eyes, but in my mind, I feel like I'm playing well going in there. It's a golf course I love, obviously. So looking forward to it.

Q. Did you watch the playoff last year with Kenny and Chad? Do you remember?
MIKE WEIR: I'm trying to think -- I think on highlights. I think I was in the air taking off, so I didn't see it live. But I remember it.

Q. Did you see the bounce Cabrera got off the tree into the middle of the fairway on the first playoff hole?
MIKE WEIR: No, I didn't see that. On 18?

Q. Regulation?
MIKE WEIR: In regulation? I'm not sure. I remember something happened.

Q. It was a crazy lucky shot that went 90 degrees into the middle of the fairway and he got up-and-down and one of those ones that people talk about for 20 years, lucky breaks. Do you have any of those?
MIKE WEIR: I have one break that I felt like it was a good break. I believe it was Saturday's round on 11. I pushed it -- I had pushed a 5-iron and it hit left of the green on 11 and it plugged into the bank and stayed. It was plugged and in the hazard but I was able to go up there and hack it out of there with a pitching wedge and just blow everything on to the green and 2-putt for a bogey. But if I would is had to drop back, it would have been a tough angle. I feeling like that saved me a shot. Even though it was a bogey, it felt like a good break at that time.

Q. The overall look of this course, you mentioned greens, this has gone through a ton of changes here, what would you say besides the greens that you spoke of, you notice more than anything else? Bunkers are all over the place, more visibility off the tee, besides the greens in your mind --
MIKE WEIR: What's the one thing that --

Q. Difference?
MIKE WEIR: Difference? Besides the greens and the bunker, those are the obvious things that stick out. I guess some of the tee box changes, the par 5s, 4 and 16 being moved back to par 5s, I think those are big changes, good changes. I think they are great par 5 greens. Even 16, only playing 520 yards today into the wind; I hit a really good drive and still had 261 yards to the hole in the wind. So for me, I couldn't reach the green.

Q. That tee box being back --
MIKE WEIR: Tee box, oh, yeah. Same with 15. That's a big hole today.

Q. Ever hit over a street before?
MIKE WEIR: No, never done that before. That's kind of different. But that's a heck of a hole now.

Q. J.B. said that this has gone from a very, very good course to almost a championship-level type course, almost a major level-type course. Would you agree with that?
MIKE WEIR: It's a great golf course, and when the wind blows like that and you have rough, it has a bigger championship feel than maybe your regular event. It's set up difficult. It has all of the makings of -- it can play very difficult. I expect it to play harder as the week goes on. We get a little wind out here, this place is tough.
We were talking in the locker room, I think if you're driving it well and you're playing out of the fairway, the approach shots are probably a little easier than before, just because there's a little more room on the greens and there's some flatter spots.
But if you're not, if you're playing, you know, a little bit more out of the rough as long as it's playing, it's probably playing a lot harder than maybe if you were in the rough before. Just because of the length, you're back there, the ball hits this rough, it just stops dead and you're way back there trying to slash something out of there.
And then these fairway bunkers, being new, are soft. John Rollins hit one that miscarried the bunker this far on 15 that was plugged with a driver. That's like a shot-and-a-half penalty, really. He could only advance it about eight yards.

Q. Fair to say there's a little bit of a Masters look to it? And with that being said, does it help prepare you better for the Masters?
MIKE WEIR: I don't know if it has a Masters look. It's so different playing Florida golf than maybe up there. The type of sand seems similar maybe but the rest is quite a bit different.

Q. You talked about the grooves earlier and about the rough, are the change in grooves, is that like a half a shot a round?
MIKE WEIR: I think where I notice a big difference was at Doral, the wispy bermuda, even some out of the fairway there. What I notice is the ball obviously doesn't spin as much. It gets higher in the air quicker.
So when you're playing into the wind or a crosswind, the ball gets up in the air faster, where with the old wedge, for myself, I could hit a little low one and spin it; where that shot is a lot harder to hit, really hard to hit. So that's a big difference on that bermuda.
Now out here and Augusta, out of the fairway won't be a big difference. You know, the little bunker shots touch bunker shots that you can stop the ball really quickly. They run out three or four or five more feet now. It's all of those subtle little things that makes the difference.
For me, I don't notice a lot of difference because I don't create a lot of swing speed and I never spun the ball a lot anyways, so I don't notice much of a difference. Maybe ask some of the longer guys if they are noticing a difference with mid-irons and stuff like that, because for me, it doesn't really make much of a difference.

Q. Did change your ball or anything?
MIKE WEIR: No, I always used the softest Titleist ball, anyways. So you know, that didn't change. I know some guys have, though.

Q. Have you given any thought to how the Champions Dinner might be a little different this year?
MIKE WEIR: With? Oh, I don't know. I haven't really thought about it.

Q. We've never been invited to one:
MIKE WEIR: I don't think so. I don't think it will be any different. I mean, with the --

Q. With Sam Snead being gone now.
MIKE WEIR: I suspect it will be -- it might be a little bit different. Maybe for some of the older guys that maybe don't know him as well. But I suspect that after a few minutes, it will be okay.

Q. Just plowing into Argentine meat.
MIKE WEIR: I hope so. I hope that's what he's serving.
JOHN BUSH: Mike, thanks for coming by.

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