Ardmore, Pa. • Had Mike Weir known a few days ago he'd post a better score here at the U.S. Open than Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia, he'd surely would've figured he'd be more in the hunt than the rest of those also-rans. But as Weir and the rest of the field learned this week, Merion is no ordinary course.
Yet, after three grueling days and untold hours waiting, playing, getting stopped by darkness, having to get up at 3:45 in the morning to finish one round and play another five hours later, finally Mike Weir had his day in a four-way tie for 28th place.
Even if virtually no one except family and close friends noticed. "I'm very pleased with that round,'' said Weir, after shooting a 1-under-par 69 to finish 12 over for the tournament, a stroke better than Tiger, two better than Rory and three ahead of Sergio. "I was much more comfortable and I hit most of the fairways.
"I got some good rest last night, got a good night's sleep and just got back to my routine. It was just a long day yesterday (26 holes stretching over 13 hours) Maybe I ran out of gas a little bit during the end of the day.
"But today went much better.''
The 43-year-old Weir, who celebrated Father's Day here with his two daughters, estimates his game is about 80 percent near top form. That's why he's so excited to keep going, heading from here to the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, as he tries to again become a semblance of the player who won the 2003 Masters then finished tied for third at the Open two months later.
"I feel healthier for sure,'' said the Sandy resident. "The last few weeks it's felt much better. I felt really confident coming in here and I just had a bad stretch.
"Because the tournament was kind of broken up [with all the delays] midway through the second round into the third round, I just didn't play particularly well.
"But I felt like I had my legs today and my body felt a lot better. Now I've just got to put it all together.''
For the players who would follow him later in the day battling it out for the title, Weir says the key is concentration and not taking a single shot for granted.
"Yeah, it's a very difficult golf course,'' said Weir, who again had breakfast in the home of a nearby family, though at least this time he had control of the remote. "And the greens are so difficult, so fast, they're the toughest I've ever played.
"It's tough to make putts out there even when you're close to the hole on the back side. So it's a tough spot to be in, but a spot you want to be in. It's a real patience test out there, because even when you hit good shots, you can't let your guard down at all.''
Going forward Weir says he'll stay on this side of the pond, rather than go over to Scotland for the British Open next month at Muirfield. But after such a long period wondering if he'd ever feel good about his game, this weekend at Merion had to be plenty reassuring.