September 28, 2007

Aquaman Comes Up For Air

Weir delivers like a World Series hero, but the Americans are having a lot more fun than the Internationals

Mike Weir fans were offering their caddie services on Saturday.

Mike Weir fans were offering their caddie services on Saturday.

For much of the delightfully crisp autumn afternoon, it felt like the International team was going to recover reasonably well from America's Saturday morning sweep of the foursomes. As it turned out, the four-balls were a push but anyone walking with Mike Weir would never have believed it.

Weir birdied three straight holes to close the front nine and three straight on the back to finish off Charles Howell III and Lucas Glover. You'd have thought you were watching Reggie Jackson in the '77 World Series at Yankee Stadium. On the walk between the ninth green and the 10th tee Weir grabbed a sandwich and someone yelled, "Bon appetit." Another spectator added a reverential, "God bless you," as St. Weirsy walked by. On the 15th, a part of the course where the watery 15th, 16th and 17th holes were edged by crowds five and six deep and the fairways populated by seagulls, Weir ran in a 25-footer for birdie to make the Internationals dormie then turned and flung his ball into the stands in golf's version of the walk-off home run.

While it's true the American superiority in foursomes will wind up winning the day, barring a cataclysmic natural disaster, Weir has made 13 birdies in 33 holes in his four-ball matches in his best display of golf since the '03 Masters. As expected, Weir and Woods will play against one another in the singles. Don't be surprised if Tiger makes some gesture along the way to acknowledge Gary Player's Canadian pick who showed up with his best when it meant the world to him. No one admires that more than Woods.

In the morning, Phil Mickelson added an eggbeater to the roiling waters of the Woody Austin saga. Mickelson and Austin closed out their match on the 14th, home of Lac Woody. Standing greenside, Mickelson put his arm on his partner's shoulder and said, "You know, if 15 years from now, they're still calling you Aquaman, this is where it all began." Later, asked if the ribbing was starting to ease up, Austin said that morning even the most mild mannered, sweetest person he'd ever met -- Barbara Nicklaus -- was looking at his picture in the paper, head completely submerged, and asked him if he'd managed to catch the salmon he was fishing for. "So what do you think?" Woody asked.

And, in the "they also serve who just watch" category, Friday night at the hotel, the only unattached male on the team, Hunter Mahan, had a toy doll delivered by room service. "It was the tour wives. That's all I'm going to say," he said.