Kragthorpe: Second place a breakthrough for former BYU Cougar Weir
Officially, Mike Weir's most recent PGA Tour victory came in 2007.
His showing this past weekend qualifies as a triumph, considering where his golf game has been - and factoring in everything that finishing second in the HP Byron Nelson Classic will do for the Sandy resident's career.
The timing is good, that's for sure. Weir's 68-66-67-67 showing in Irving, Texas, came the week after his 44th birthday, just when it was looking more and more difficult for him to keep playing regularly on the tour and questions persisted about whether he would ever regain his old form. Now, he's pretty much clinched his 2015 eligibility, and he's obviously capable of winning again sometime.
The former BYU golfer finished two strokes behind Brendon Todd after briefly leading in the final round, fading and then regrouping to end up alone in second place Sunday. Weir's check for $745,200 represents more than twice his total earnings for the previous four seasons, while he has tried to come back from an elbow injury.
Seriously, who thought he had this kind of performance in him? Weir kept believing in himself, but his game was providing little evidence to support that faith - even among his own fans.
Sunday's 67, while Weir was in contention, reflected "the best golf I played in a long time," he said in a news conference. "... It just shows you that the things you're working on your game, when they show up under the heat of competition and stress there, that you're doing the right things."
Weir's ability to put together four solid rounds was impressive, because he had not done so in a long, long time. He held up well over the weekend, when the pressure could have overwhelmed him - never mind that he's won eight tournaments in his career, including the 2003 Masters.
"No doubt about it, I was nervous," he said. "I hadn't been there in a long time."
During the 2014 season, which began in October and ends in August under the PGA Tour's new calendar, Weir has made the cut in only six of 18 starts and earned less than $100,000. The search for positive results led him to conclude, "It's not fun to play poor golf."
Now he's comfortably inside the top 125 on the money list with only three months remaining in the season, and can confidently approach what's left of the schedule - including the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Asked to reflect on his recent struggles, Weir said, "I've had plenty of hard times in my career, it took me seven years out of college to get on the PGA Tour, missing cuts on the Asian tour, Canadian Tour, all around the world, so I knew I could rely on that and I knew I could dig deep within myself to pull myself out of things. This has taken a long time and it's only one week, but this week was great and very satisfying."
Weir is using his final exemption, based on PGA Tour career earnings, in 2014. Sunday's breakthrough should enable him to pick his playing opportunities next season, as he moves closer to Champions Tour eligibility in 2020.
Now that his daughters are 16 and 14 and involved in sports, Weir intends to play a somewhat reduced schedule in the coming years. Sunday's performance means that when he's not playing next year, it will be a result of his own decision.