Ardmore, Pa. • A decade ago, the pressure nearly suffocating, Mike Weir sank a similarly huge 8-foot putt to stay alive. That one, putting him into a playoff with Len Mattiace, ultimately resulted in the Sandy native donning the coveted green jacket as Masters champion.
This one, though, here at the U.S. Open at Merion, wasn’t half bad, as the 43-year-old Weir needed to hole another 8-footer on the final hole simply to make the cut. Then, playing late in the day at the opposite end of the leaders, Weir, finally worn down from the effects of 26 grueling holes and an exhausting day, finished at 5-over 75 and 13 over for the tournament.
“I can hardly remember that far back,” laughed Weir, who’ll have to carry the Utah banner solo, after Jay Don Blake failed to make the cut. “I feel like I’ve been here 15-16 hours.
“I had to get up at 3:45 a.m. to go out there this morning. … But it was nice to make that putt. It’s good to keep playing. As well as I was hitting the ball, it would’ve been tough not to make the cut.
“Now I just want to play a good round tomorrow. But this golf course gets you. I’ve hit some nice shots, but when you miss the fairways you’re going to make bogeys.”
Certainly that was Blake’s problem, particularly during a stretch of nine holes Friday when he made six bogeys and a double bogey to seal his fate. Blake wound up with an 80 for the long night into day, following his opening-round 74 to finish 14-over 154, well over the plus-8 cutline.
But the 54-year-old Blake said he still enjoyed the experience. “I couldn’t really execute some shots to make birdies and I got on the defensive,” said Blake. “I think if I’d developed a little confidence I would’ve played better.
“But I’d love to come back for a bit of revenge next year [at Pinehurst, 2014 site of the Open]. I got a little taste of it here again, and I don’t feel my game’s that far off.
“I just got nervous and put a lot of pressure on myself.”
On the other hand — his left, of course, Weir wasn’t fazed by the pressure, assuring himself a payday for the weekend. Depending on how he fares Sunday — well before Phil Mickelson and the rest of the pack chasing him tee off — will determine just how large the check.
Regardless, Weir, who once tied for third in the 2003 Open coming on the heels of his Masters triumph, will leave the Open today feeling pretty satisfied.