Archive for Monday, February 23, 2004

Weir hangs on to win Nissan title

Masters champion survives late charge from Maruyama

February 23, 2004

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— Mike Weir wanted to prove he could win with the lead.

By the time he won the Nissan Open on Sunday, it felt like another one of his great comebacks.

A seven-shot lead disappeared in a span of 12 holes. Shigeki Maruyama was charging hard, knocking down the pin with a 3-iron at No. 15 and catching Weir on the next hole with a 6-iron that never left the flag.

Then came the rain, hard and steady, making the decisive, 475-yard 18th hole at Riviera play even longer.

"You have to dig deep," Weir said. "I was able to do that."

Right when it seemed as through he was going to let a big one get away, the gutsy Canadian answered with the best chip of a the week with the wedge. From the side of a grassy hill, Weir nearly holed the 45-foot chip and tapped in for par and a one-stroke victory.

The Masters champion, who had won his previous six PGA Tour events from behind and was 0-for-5 with a 54-hole lead, closed with an even-par 71 and became the first back-to-back winner at Riviera since Corey Pavin in 1994-95.

He finished at 17-under 267 and earned $864,000.

"If you'd have told me at the beginning of the week I'd be tied on the 17th hole, I'd be happy with that," Weir said. "It wasn't maybe what I was expecting at the beginning of the day, but that's the reality now. I just needed to bear down a little bit."

Maruyama's chances ended when he missed the 18th fairway, couldn't reach the green and hit a 50-yard chip 12 feet past the hole. His par putt to force a playoff slid by on the right. It was his only bogey in a final-round 67.

Stuart Appleby shot 66 and was three shots back. John Daly, coming off his first PGA Tour victory in nine years, carded a 67 and finished fourth.

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