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Rubenstein: Weir takes a step back at Augusta

Mike Weir of Canada hits his tee shot on the third hole

MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS

Augusta, Ga. – Mike Weir came into the Masters feeling less than 100 per cent, and felt better as he approached the tournament. But after shooting 72 in the opening round, he went through his usual warm-up to loosen up, but he wasn't successful and felt tight all day. Weir shot 79 on a very difficult Augusta National course, during a windy day with the tees all the way back on many holes and the pins in tricky places. He missed the cut.

"It wasn't good," Weir said after he bogied the last hole. "It was a tough golf course, and you need 100 per cent. I woke up stiff and I wasn't able to get loose. I felt very restricted out there."

Weir tried before the round to get moving comfortably while getting some treatment, but, he said, "I couldn't get my thoracic cage and rib area moving. It was a tough day, and to top it off, I couldn't make a putt."

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Weir is entered for next week's PGA Tour event in Hilton Head Island, S.C., but won't play unless things improve on the weekend. He'll be coming to Augusta National for treatment, although, of course, he'd also like to be playing on the weekend.

"It feels like right now, there's no way I can play [next week]," Weir said. "It's a step back. It wasn't as bad as Bay Hill (where Weir injured his ribs during the Arnold Palmer Invitational a few weeks ago). But it's like a bad back. It gets you."

Weir said the day was hard for many reasons, and that the wind played a big role. Even on short putts, he said, it was important to be careful because of gusts of wind. One consequence of the conditions is that play was extremely slow all day. Weir's threesome, which included Jim Furyk and Lee Westwood, took about five and a half hours to finish the round. It took Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, and Scott Piercy just under three hours to complete their front nine.

Weir was not aware of the one-stroke penalty that 14-year-old Tianlang Guan incurred for violating the slow play policy in effect. When he was told, he had a one-word response.

"Wow," Weir said. "That's too bad. The wind was swirling. You pick one club, and then you back off. You just know that on days like this, the pace will be slow."

Told that Ben Crenshaw, with whom the youngster was playing, said he felt sick about the penalty, Weir said, "I feel sick for him, too."

Meanwhile, Weir will assess his condition over the weekend. He did not sound like a golfer who was feeling positive about playing next week. As he said, his two rounds at the Masters, before which he was able to get in only nine holes on the course the day before the start, were a setback. Given his nature, he'll likely find a way to move forward. But that could take some time.

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