LOS ANGELES, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Twelve months ago, Canadian left-hander Mike Weir ended a PGA Tour title drought of almost four years with a one-shot victory at the Arizona Open in Scottsdale.
Although he has not triumphed since then, he will defend his crown this week on the Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club buoyed by five top-10s in his last seven Tour starts.
“This year I’m playing well,” the 38-year-old told reporters in the build-up to the fifth event in the Tour’s Fall Series.
“I’ve been playing well the last two months and have been kind of building on that.”
Weir, the 2003 U.S. Masters champion, conceded his triumph at Grayhawk last year had sparked a mixture of delight and relief.
“Three-and-a-half years was a long time to wait,” he said of his one-stroke victory over Australian Mark Hensby.
“Since my first year on Tour it’s been the longest stretch without winning. It was a tough few years but I feel like things are back on track.
“It was great to win, to play so well at the end of the year and get a win. It was real important for my confidence.”
Less than a month before clinching his eighth PGA Tour title, Weir had capped one of the most memorable weeks of his life by beating world number one Tiger Woods in the last-day singles at the Presidents Cup in Canada.
Simply playing on that team had been his biggest goal of the year and he ended his 2007 campaign in sparkling form with top-20 finishes in his last three tournaments.
“My mind was elsewhere at different parts of the year last year, wondering if I was going to make the team, and then once I did, the anticipation for it,” Weir recalled.
“Maybe that’s why I played well at the end of last year, once it (the Presidents Cup) was over. I had good momentum after that.”
Weir, the world number 22, is the highest-ranked player in this week’s field at Grayhawk where the priority for many is to secure playing privileges on next year’s PGA Tour.
Only three more events remain on the 2008 Tour schedule for players to break into the top 125 on the money list and earn exempt status for next season.
Among those in precarious positions are former major winners Davis Love III (125th), Rich Beem (133rd) and Tom Lehman (134th).
The Arizona Open starts on Thursday. (Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Sonia Oxley)