Matt Slocum, AP
Mike Weir, of Canada, hits on the fourth hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — It’s been a tough go for 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir over much of the past decade. He’s battled injuries and a decline in his play, making just two of 32 cuts on the PGA Tour over the past four years as well as a stretch of just two made cuts out of 27 in 2011 and 2012.

It was quite a fall for the ex-BYU golfer, who once ranked in the top 10 in the world.

But the Sandy resident has revived his game over the past year or so and he showed it Thursday when he posted his best score at Augusta National in five years with a solid even-par 72, which puts him in a tie for 29th place.

“All in all, I’m very happy,” Weir said after his round. “I hit the ball great, I’ve just got to sharpen up the putting a little bit.”

" I’ve got a great team around me. I got a new coach, I’m healthy as well and I’m confident, all that combo together. "
Mike Weir

Weir, whose last even-par round at Augusta came in 2014, the last time he made the cut, said he’s improved recently because of several reasons, including good health (no injuries), consistent competition and a new coach. He says he has more confidence in his game, which helped after he got off to a slow start with three bogeys in his first seven holes.

“I kept telling myself, 'I know I’m playing good,'” he said. “I hit one bad shot out there, the tee shot at No. 7 (where he made bogey). I kept telling myself, ‘listen, I’m playing good, things just aren’t falling my way yet.’ So that was the mindset.”

After a shaky start with bogeys at 1, 4 and 7, Weir made a birdie at the par-5 eighth hole and added birdies at No. 12 with a 12-footer and the par-5 15th with a five-footer.

“I’ve got a great team around me,” Weir said. “I got a new coach, I’m healthy as well and I’m confident, all that combo together.”

Weir, who turned 48 last year, said it’s also helped being able to play consistently on the Tour. That's because of a PGA Tour exemption that allows former PGA Tour regulars to play on the Tour when they turn 48, in preparation for the Champions Tour, which Weir plans to play next year.

“Just playing in events and getting in the tournament mindset again helps,” said Weir. “When you play one and have three weeks off, it’s hard, especially when you get older. It’s nice to get back in the rhythm of tournament golf again and will be for the rest of the year.”

MAKING THE CUT: Although he talked about getting back into contention in the Masters with a good round Friday, Weir would be happy to make the cut after missing seven of the last eight at the Masters if he puts together another solid round. Over the past five years, scores between 146 and 150 were needed to advance to the weekend.

To make the cut at the Masters, golfers must be among the top 50 after two rounds or within 10 strokes of the lead. That rule has been in effect since 2013.

For the first 23 years of the Masters, there was no cut as the field varied between 72 and 84 golfers. A cut was instituted in 1957 for the top 40 golfers and ties plus those within 10 of the lead when 101 golfers were in the field. It was modified to the top 44 plus ties and those within 10, which remained in effect until 2013.

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REMEMBERING FORD: Former champions of the Masters have their own Champions Locker Room, with each player having his named engraved on a locker he shares with another.

Weir shared a locker with 1957 champion Doug Ford, who passed away last year at the age of 95.

“It was different not having Doug there,” Weir told the Augusta Chronicle. “There are a lot of great memories with him and meeting his family. When I saw the locker this week it was emotional for me. He was a quiet, inspirational champion. He didn’t talk about himself, but from the stories I hear everybody talk about what a fierce competitor and what a great player he was.”