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Mike Weir, Len Mattiace look back on 2003 Masters playoff
Minutes later, Mike Weir raised his arms in triumph on the green, having tapped in for a bogey to beat Len Mattiace’s double bogey to become the first left-handed Masters champion and the first Canadian to win a major.
Mattiace recovered enough to focus on the positives – the two-time PGA Tour winner had stood on the brink of winning golf’s most coveted tournament, an accomplishment he still cherishes.
“It was a great week for me,” the 45-year-old Jacksonville, Fla., resident said recently. “I hit a lot of good shots and did a lot of good things. I tied for the low score in the Masters after 72 holes, which is something a lot of good players don’t get to experience.”
Weir, who had already won five times on the PGA Tour, was poised to use his first major championship as a springboard to join golf’s elite. His victory at Augusta was his third of the season, and he ended the year ranked fifth in the world.
“In my own mind, that was the next step,” said Weir, 42, who lives in Sandy, Utah. “I had won some nice tournaments – a World Golf Championship, the Tour Championship – and contended in some majors. But I hadn’t gotten the job done. So to win (at Augusta) was huge, in my own mind.”
Ten years later, neither has taken the career path they believed possible after that Masters. Both had injuries that led to swing problems, which led to dips in confidence. Neither was among the longest of hitters (Weir was 68th in driving distance in 2003, Mattiace 153rd) but had carved out solid careers to that point based on accuracy, deft short games and putting.
When the accuracy went, even more pressure was put on their short games, resulting in too many putts for par or worse.
“I developed some bad habits,” Mattiace said. “The knees are fine. I haven’t had any issues with them for years.”
Said Weir: “(I’m) just trying to find a way to make things more consistent … play my kind of game, which is precision golf. I haven’t found that yet.”
Short hitters take charge
Weir and Mattiace were on no one’s radar when the 2003 Masters began.
Woods, at the height of his game, had already won three times that season and was going for his third consecutive Masters title.
Augusta National had begun a series of changes to add distance to the course. Heavy rain that washed out Monday’s practice round and accumulated 2 inches left the course wet, long and in the wheelhouse for Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and the game’s other bombers.
Visit The Augusta Chronicle website for more coverage of the 2013 Masters Tournament. Copyright 2013 The Augusta Chronicle. All Rights Reserved.
By David A. Clarke Jr.
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