Weir wins first senior title when Daly goes in the water

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THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Former Masters champion Mike Weir won his first PGA Tour Champions event Sunday when he held steady with pars down the stretch for a 4-under 68 and let John Daly made the last mistake in the Insperity Invitational.

Weir, of Brights Grove, Ont., and Daly were tied going down the stretch at The Woodlands, which was reduced to 36 holes because of heavy rain earlier in the week.

Daly, playing in the group ahead of Weir, was posing over his 9-iron over the water to the 18th green when it came up a fraction short and splashed next to the bulkhead. He made double bogey for a 69 and had to settle for runner-up.

Weir, who missed birdie chances inside 10 feet on the 16th and 17th holes, watched it all unfold and knew what he had to do. He fired his approach to about 15 feet behind the hole, and pumped his fist as he walked toward the green. He wound up winning by two shots.

“J.D. played great. It was unfortunate for him on the last,” Weir said. “This means a lot. I played really well today. I'm still a little off with my putting. I made it hard on myself. But I hit the shots that I needed. It feels very good.”

Because of rain that washed out the opening round Friday, the first round wasn't finished until Sunday morning and the tournament was reduced to 36 holes. That turned it into a shootout, and Daly and Weir provided most of the action.

"It was a tough battle out there," said Weir. "Thirty-six holes, so it was kind of a sprint. At the end, still a tournament where it comes down to the last few holes where you're working hard to hit the shots at the right time and I was able to do that.

"It's a great feeling. You want to put yourself in there, you want to see that the hard work you've done can pay off. It doesn't get old getting in that position. It's what we all work for."

The victory was Weir's first on any tour since 2007, when he won the Fry's Electronic Open in Arizona.

The 50-year-old admitted there were times he considered walking away from golf over the last few years when he struggled with his game.

"It probably crossed my mind, but that's just not me," said Weir. "I'm a person to try to find a solution. That was just my mindset.

"It's a new phase of life, 50s. I tried to turn the page on my 40s. It was miserable all the way around. So 50s have been great. Life's good and my game's showing up. In a good place."

Daly holed a 25-foot eagle putt on the par-5 13th to take a two-shot lead, and it looked as though he was on his way. In the next group, Weir hit his approach to 3 feet on the 13th for a matching eagle to tie for the lead again.

The Canadian fell back with a bogey on the 14th, but he caught a break when Daly missed his 3-wood into the par-5 15th and had to settle for par, and Weir made birdie to catch him again.

Daly couldn't believe he hit into the water on the final hole.

“I caught a gust on 18,” he said. “I hit a 9-iron from about 155 and I hit a 9-iron from 141 there and I caught a gust and just got a bad break. But I can’t hit the ball any better. I’m excited about next week.”

It was the second win in as many weeks for a Canadian on a major golf tour after Brooke Henderson captured the LPGA Tour's HUGEL Air Premia LA Open on Apr. 24. It was the Smiths Falls, Ont., native's 10th career LPGA title.

The 50-and-over circuit plays the first of its five majors next week at the Regions Tradition.

Weir finished at 10-under 134.

Daly tied for second with David Toms and Tim Petrovic, who each closed with a 71. Bernhard Langer (69) and Bob Estes (68) tied for fifth.

The Associated Press