Mike Weir had a strange finish to his “regular season,” getting bounced out of the FedEx Cup early and then bouncing back to upend the No. 1 player in the world, Tiger Woods, in the Presidents Cup.
“Yeah, I played great (at the Presidents Cup), and I’ve been playing good the last few months, really,” said Weir, who is among the “name players’’ teeing it up this week in the Fry’s Electronics Open at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale.
“I didn’t get a chance, unfortunately, to play in the last couple FedEx tournaments. ... But ever since the British Open, everything has been feeling a lot better.”
It’s been a weird year for Weir, who sits at No. 84 on the money list with a little more than $1 million. It’s his worst position on that list since 1998. He also has not won since the 2004 Nissan Open.
Still, it wasn’t necessarily the money that inspired him to play in Scottsdale this week.
“It’s close to Salt Lake. It’s an easy trip,” said Weir, who resides in Draper, Utah. “I just want to get back to winning and feel like my game is in good order to contend.
“So I just wanted to play one last (tournament) here. I’ve got a lot of good friends here in the area, as well. So all of those factor together.”
George McNeill, the rookie who broke through to win last week’s Frys.com Open in Las Vegas, moved from No. 122 to No. 59 on the money list and plans to keep climbing.
“I hope I make enough money to get in the top 30 and get in the Masters,’’ said McNeill, who won last year’s Qualifying School tournament.
“Not that that’s the only reason I’m playing these next three (tournaments), but a lot of it is trying to get into the Masters.”
It’s been a roller coaster for the rookie, who won about half of his $1,422,127 this season with last week’s $720,000 paycheck. He’s also missed nine cuts and has only two top-10 finishes in 28 starts.
Three players received sponsor’s exemptions into the tournament this week — Jerry Smith of Scottsdale, Chris Riley and Nick Flanagan, who was promoted from the Nationwide Tour not long ago after his third win of 2007.
Among those withdrawing are Nathan Green, Brandt Snedeker and Jesper Parnevik, who won the FBR/Phoenix Open in 1998. Replacing them were Jaco Van Zyl, Jim Rutledge and Bryce Molder, who got in after Michael Bradley withdrew off the alternates list.
Also getting a spot was Garret Willis, who finished in the top 10 of last week’s Frys.com Open in Las Vegas. Next up on the alternates list are Bubba Dickerson and Duffy Waldorf.
Nine players in this week’s 132-man field have won tournaments on the PGA Tour this season.
Leading the list is Phil Mickelson, who has won three times — the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, The Players Championship and the Deutsche Bank Championship. Another multiple winner is Steve Flesch (Reno Tahoe Open, Turning Stone Championship).
Among those with one win are Scottsdale’s Aaron Baddeley, who earlier bagged the FBR Open, Charley Hoffman, Justin Leonard, Joe Ogilvie, Nick Watney and Ahwatukee Foothills’ Mark Calcavecchia, who claimed the PODS Championship.
Two rookies from the East Valley — Jeff Quinney and Steve Marino — are among leading candidates for PGA Tour rookie of the year. The leader in that department, Brandt Snedeker, withdrew from the tournament on Tuesday.
Quinney has totaled $1,485,439 this season with five top-10s, while Marino has earned $1,119,612 with four top-10s. Snedeker has lapped them with a win at the Wyndham Championship while piling up $2,836,543 in winnings.
Desperately seeking money
These five veterans need some quick cash to keep their PGA Tour cards for next season. A player needs to finish in the top 125 on the money list to keep playing on Tour unless he has some type of other status reserved primarily for winners.
Rank on money list: 181
The Big Bopper needs a big chunk of change to get back on the PGA Tour and avoid the Sponsor’s Exemption Game. A really BIG chunk!
Rank on money list: 162
It’s been a terrible three-year stretch for “Riles,” who tumbled to No. 184 in 2005, moved to No. 150 last year, and is near the bottom again.
Rank on money list: 150
A winner of eight Tour titles, the big Okie is playing on a one-time exemption off the all-time money list after finishing 175th last year.
Rank on money list: 142
The 20-year vet has never been back to Q-School, but he came close to losing his card in 2004 when he ended up No. 124 on the money tree.
Rank on money list: 135
The colorful Japanese star hasn’t won in four years. Meanwhile, he has slowly and steadily moved down the money list the past three years.