August 9, 2008 / 11:59 PM / 11 years ago

INTERVIEW-Golf-PGA-2008 majors the toughest yet, says Weir

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Michigan, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Former Masters champion Mike Weir, a PGA Tour player for the last decade, cannot recall a tougher year for all four major championships.

The Canadian left-hander played his first full campaign in 1998 and says weather and course conditions have never been more difficult at the four showpiece events.

“It seems like every year the majors are getting harder and harder,” Weir told Reuters after carding a one-over-par 71 in Saturday’s third round at the U.S. PGA Championship.

“This year we have played in a lot of wind. Almost every week, even a normal week on the Tour, we have played in a lot of wind.

“The Open championship had winds stronger than the others and then we’ve had it tough again this week as well,” he added, initially referring to last month’s British Open at Royal Birkdale.

“I would definitely say this year is the toughest set of majors I’ve ever played.”

South African Trevor Immelman won the Masters in April with an eight-under total of 280, triumphing by three strokes over Tiger Woods after shooting a 75 in tricky, swirling winds.

STRANGELY SILENT

Throughout that week, the birdie roars that have traditionally lit up Augusta National’s back nine were strangely silent on a layout stretched to 7,445 yards.

In June, world number one Tiger Woods clinched the U.S. Open in a 19-hole playoff with fellow American Rocco Mediate on the 7,643-yard South Course at Torrey Pines outside San Diego.

Woods and Mediate finished the 72 regulation holes at one-under-par 283 on the longest course to host a major championship.

Last month, Irishman Padraig Harrington successfully defended his British Open crown at Birkdale after a gruelling week when winds gusted up to 72-kph (45-mph).

Harrington sealed his second major title with a three-over tally of 283.

At this week’s PGA Championship, the players have been battling away on the tough Oakland Hills Country Club layout in suburban Detroit that was dubbed “The Monster” by Ben Hogan after he won the 1951 U.S. Open.

“Augusta wasn’t easy and the U.S. Open is never easy,” added Weir, who claimed his maiden major title at the 2003 Masters.

“The U.S. Open was probably the best conditions as far as course set-up is concerned and the wind was up a little bit but not real strong. But these last two (majors) have been extremely difficult.”

Editing by Ed Osmond

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