It’s been a while since Mike Weir found himself in the lead heading to the final round, but like riding a bike, it all felt familiar, even if it didn’t result in a win.
Weir took a three-shot lead into the last round of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic but ended up second after battling with fellow lefty Phil Mickelson. It was just the third time that lefthanders have finished first and second in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.
"I haven't been in this position in a while,” said the Brights Grove, Ont., product, “but I felt very confident. I hit one poor tee shot on No. 7. Outside of that, I played really well and just didn't get anything really out of it.”
Weir did admit that his putter went cold over the final 18 holes. The longest putt he made all day was from eight feet and he three-putted three times.
Playing 36 holes on Saturday after Friday was rained out, the Canadian shot rounds of 68 and 63, the latter coming after a nine-birdie, bogey-free performance.
Mickelson, who won for the second time in two starts on the PGA Tour Champions, made eight birdies against just one bogey. That lone miscue came on the ninth hole when he hit his tee shot out of bounds.
For most of the day, he took advantage of his length, hitting long, soaring tee shots that sailed past most of Weir’s drives. He hit mid-irons into the par-5s and drove the green on the par-4 14th.
Mickelson was using a new driver that he hopes to play when he gets to the Masters in a few weeks and declared the new club to be a success in its maiden run.
“It's a huge, big advantage when you're carrying the ball that far,” admitted Weir of Mickelson’s distance. “I kind of knew that going into this week.”
The battle with Mickelson was another episode in a long history between the two lefties who first knocked heads in their collegiate days. When Weir won his Masters in 2003, Mickelson finished third, two shots back. A year later, Mickelson captured his inaugural Masters title and Weir slipped the Green Jacket on him.
Weir’s performance marks another step in a return to form for the eight-time PGA Tour winner. Since injuring his elbow after hitting a root at the 2011 RBC Heritage, Weir struggled with his game. He missed the cut in 62 starts from 2012-2016 but continued to battle to find a way to swing. The perseverance and hard work paid off as his swing slowly returned to form, evidenced by his play this week.
"I'm very pleased with my game,” stated Weir. “I'm happy with the way I'm driving it.”
Weir’s finish was his best since a runner-up performance at the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2014. He collected $176,000 for his efforts. He was looking to join Dave Barr, Stephen Ames and Rod Spittle as Canadians to win on PGA Tour Champions.