Weir opened with a 70 and followed with a 68, most of that round on Friday and the final six holes Saturday morning, which gave him a four-stroke lead after 36 holes. After a 75 in the third round Saturday afternoon, he fell two shots off the pace, set by Jeff Maggert.
“For myself, I always felt like the way that tournament played out, I was the player in control of that tournament from day one,’’ Weir said. “I was leading right off the bat. I was in control of that tournament, and that's the mentality I took into the Sunday round, that I've been in control of this tournament.’’
— — — — —
Shaking off the disappointment of his finish Saturday, Forsman came out on fire Sunday, making birdies at Nos. 2, 5 and 7 and just missing a short birdie putt at 8, and moving to 8-under-par, one behind Langer, who was in the group behind Forsman.
After 11 holes, Forsman was still one behind Langer when disaster struck at the tricky 165-yard par-3 called “Golden Bell.”
As he approached the tee, he received a thunderous ovation from the large group of patrons in the stands behind the tee. Then Forsman and his caddie took an inordinate amount of time trying to decide which club to hit. The tee was back further than he expected and the wind was swirling and he was in between clubs. He finally decided to hit a 7-iron, but in mid-swing worried about hitting it too long and instead let up and hit it right into Rae’s Creek.
“When I got to the tee that day, (the gallery) all came to their feet when I climbed the hill from the 11th green to the 12th tee. They were pulling for me, saying ‘you can win it, you can win it,’ ’’ he recalls. “It was quite a realization for a guy who started out as a caddy and aspired to be a pro and became one and qualified for the Masters and had a chance to compete there and all of a sudden was in position to win the championship. That was a long journey for me and I got swallowed up in the moment emotionally there.’’
Rather than dropping near the green, Forsman moved back to the 100-yard mark for a solid wedge shot. His ball disappeared into the rye grass and this time his shot hit the bank and rolled back into the water. Finally he hit the green, two-putted and walked away with a quadruple-bogey 7.
The ironic thing, Forsman noted, was that while he was having his troubles at 12, Langer came within a couple of feet of plunking second shot in the lake at No. 11.
“He could have gotten a double or worse — you get a break or don’t get a break.’’
If Forsman could have hit the green and parred and Langer made double, Forsman would have been in the lead by one, heading into 13 and 14, holes that he ended up birdieing. From there, who knows what would have happened, but Forsman’s chances were washed away in the water at No. 12.
— — — — —
Heading into Sunday’s final round, Weir trailed Maggert, the same guy who had led the tournament in ’93 as a Masters rookie, with former champion Vijay Singh, just a shot behind and Woods and Phil Mickelson only two shots back. It was a stellar leaderboard.
Weir played steady golf — he was the first champion in 46 years to play a bogey-free final round — to stay near the top of the leaderboard all day. He birdied the par-5 2nd hole and took the lead after 3 when Maggert made a triple bogey. However, several groups ahead, Mattiace was ripping up the course with birdies and charging to the lead.
After making it past No. 12 at Amen Corner, Weir was suddenly three down to Mattiace, who after going 4-under through 12 holes, eagled 13 and birdied 15 and 16.
Weir sank a must-putt from 15 feet at No. 13, then added a birdie at 15. When Mattiace got in trouble at No. 18 and bogeyed, the two were tied at 7-under.
When he came to 18, Weir faced a long putt, which he left eight feet short. That’s when he hit the most important stroke of his life.
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