FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- On a big, brute of a golf course such as Bethpage Black, a relatively short-knocker like Mike Weir isn't anyone's first choice in the office pool.
Of course, the left-handed Canadian wasn't supposed to win the Masters Tournament either.
|Mike Weir is getting on the green and sinking his puts to remain in contention. (Getty Images)|
"I'm not the longest hitter, but usually pretty consistent and I'm very determined, I would say," said Weir of his ability to hang with the bigger hitters on a course saturated with rain. "Might not be the prettiest, but I usually find a way to get it in the hole."
The U.S. Open has never been a beauty contest, and Weir has compiled a strong history in 11 consecutive years of qualifying for the season's second major championship. Only twice since 1999 has he finished outside the top 20 in the U.S. Open, including three top 10 finishes. He did miss the cut at Bethpage Black in 2002, but he tied for fourth at Shinnecock Hills in 2004 and sixth at Winged Foot in 2006.
"I've played a number of U.S. Opens well and especially here in New York," said Weir, whose best finish was T3 at Olympia Fields in 2003 on the heels of his Masters victory. "So before I won the Masters, if you were to ask me what major I thought I'd win if I was to win one, I would have thought this one. I think my record's probably been the best consistency-wise in the U.S. Open."
The softness of the greens this week has actually played into Weir's hands. Most of the day Friday he was lasering hybrids and irons at the pins and rolling in putts. He threatened to break the all-time U.S. Open record with a 62 in the first round before a double bogey on No. 6 (his 15th hole) forced him to settle for setting the competitive course record of 64.
"Those clubs have been good to me," he said of the two hybrids he has incorporated into his arsenal this week. "I've hit a number of really good shots."
While his U.S. Open experience would seem enough to draw on for confidence, Weir harkens back to the 2003 Masters as his example. That year the first round was entirely washed out, and Weir played 29 holes the first day and 25 the next during a chopped-up week of rain delays and restarts.
"The mentality I used there, I'm trying to use that same mentality of just some of these things are out of your control," he said. "It's been a lot of starting and stopping this week. It's just been a test of patience and trying to be in the right state of mind each time you come out not to let things change too much. It's difficult for everybody."
Scott Michaux is a columnist and golf writer for the Augusta Chronicle.