Weir among headliners at tournament

He has yet to record a victory on the PGA Tour this year, but Mike Weir has little to complain about his 2008 season.

The likable Canadian veteran who won the Masters in 2003 has had a solid, consistent season heading into today’s first round of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. In 24 events, Weir has two second-place finishes — at The Memorial and Deutsche Bank Championship — six top-10 placings and 11 finishes in the top 25.

He has made $2,719,169 this year, placing 15th on the tour’s money list. A decent showing this week will put him close to $3 million and give him his second-best year in 17 years as a professional.

"All the work I’ve put in the past couple of years is starting to pay off," Weir said Wednesday after shooting a 5-under-par 67 during his round of the celebrity pro-am. "I’ve been working hard on my wedge game and my scoring clubs. I seem to be more dialed-in in those areas, and it’s paying off."

Like many of the tour pros, Weir, 38, is excited about the changes in the tournament’s format. He noticed the difference Wednesday at the celebrity pro-am as fans flocked to see Timberlake, Ellen DeGeneres and other celebrities.

"There’s a lot more energy out here with all the celebrities," he said. "I think it’s great what Justin has done, and having the Shriners Hospitals is a great cause.

"The course is in great shape. If the weather stays nice, it’s going to take a low number to win. You’re going to have to shoot at least 4 or 5 under each day to have a chance."

Weir took a couple of weeks off after the Tour Championship, where he finished tied for sixth place. He said he’s ready to take a run at TPC Summerlin and try to finish the year with a win.

"I’ve always liked coming out here," he said. "I’ve had a couple of good days of practice, and my game’s in good shape. The key to this course is managing the greens. There’s a lot of subtle breaks, and it’s like any other tournament — if you don’t make some putts, it’s hard to win."

This is Weir’s sixth Las Vegas appearance, and he’s hoping to build on his performance from last year when he finished tied for 10th, his best to date. To do so, he’s going to have to beat a competitive field that has seven other players who participated in the Tour Championship: defending champ George McNeill, Rocco Mediate, Zach Johnson and former UNLV stars Chad Campbell, Charley Hoffman, Ryan Moore and Chris Riley.

"I think the new format of one course and no pro-am has probably helped make the field stronger," said Weir, who at No. 23 in the current World Golf Rankings is the highest-ranked player participating in Las Vegas this week.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ or 702-387-2913.

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