Masters 2023: Few golfers have ever had the Masters experience Mike Weir had on Thursday
AUGUSTA, Ga. — After having the back nine all to himself on Thursday, Mike Weir couldn't remember the last time he played as a single. One thing's for sure, it wasn't at the Masters.
Thanks to an unusual confluence of events, the 2003 Masters champ played half his opening round without a playing partner. With 88 golfers in the field, Weir began the day as one of two twosomes the first two rounds. He ended it as a rare solo.
Weir teed off with Kevin Na, but with the LIV golfer withdrew after nine holes, citing an illness.
"I think he just said, 'I'm done,'" Weir said. "And handed me his card and away he went."
And away Weir and his caddie headed toward the 10th tee. After making the turn at one under, Weir bogeyed 10 and 11, but bounced back with birdies at 12 and 15. He bogeyed 16, but parred his final two holes to post an even-par 72.
"I told my caddie I didn't want to overthink and be too slow," Weir said. "You kind of get in a routine and you don't want to take too much time and overthink things. So obviously, I think it took me a couple holes to settle that down. On 10, 11, I got a little out of sorts on 10, 11 and then kind of settled it back down."
Weir said playing solo was "strange," but he also enjoyed himself during his particularly peaceful stroll. Heck, being first out by yourself at Augusta National sounds pretty darn sweet. It's tough to imagine a more peaceful stroll. Plus, you don't have to worry about forcing any small talk.
"I think that's the biggest thing is just getting the pace right of your walk and not kind of getting too caught up in my own game and just kind of having a laugh with my caddie and just kind of enjoying it," Weir added. "That's the approach I look. Let's just enjoy this back nine. It's beautiful out here."
It's an approach that worked well as the 52-year-old put himself in great position to play the weekend, something he's only done once since 2014.
"Obviously I want to play well and make the cut," Weir said. "The last couple years I've been close and haven't had my sharpest short game, I felt like. I missed the cut by one and then two last year, the last two years. I felt like I let those tournaments get away, so to speak. I felt I didn't take advantage of how well I played, and today is a step in the right direction."
What made playing solo so rare at the Masters is Augusta National's longstanding practice of putting a playing marker out with golfers to avoid anyone playing by himself. The club usually doesn't have to do that until the weekend, and member Jeff Knox—a legend on Golf Twitter—has filled that role admirably for the past couple decades.
Sadly, the Augusta Chronicle reported Knox, 60, was relieved of his duties last year. Although we didn't get confirmation of that when an even number of players made the cut. But Weir expects company when he tees it up Friday afternoon—he's just not sure who it will be.
"I just heard today they might, you know a marker looks like that's probably what's going to happen, but they might move somebody in the field with me, too," Weir said. "So yeah, it will be a little different, but we'll have a good time whoever we're playing with and just kind of make the most of it and try to get in the same rhythm that I had today. I'll try not to think too much about it."
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