Canada's Mike Weir waves to the crowd at Glen Abbey Golf Club after a birdie on the 16th hole during second-round play at the Canadian Open on Friday. Weir followed up a one-over 73 on Thursday with a round of five-under. Frank Gunn/Canadian Press
Mike Weir is back in the conversation at the Canadian Open.
The Brights Grove, Ont., golfer turned in a five-under-par 67, highlighted by seven birdies, in second-round action at Glen Abbey Golf Club on Friday.
"Yeah, it was a great day. It was one of those rounds that could have been really anything. I could have been 10 under pretty easily, I think," Weir said from Oakville, Ont. "But played great, and it was exciting to do that for the fans."
Weir, 43, opened play on Thursday with a one-over 73, four shots back of Brad Fritsch, the top Canadian in Round 1.
In Friday’s round, Weir shot four-under on the back nine to move to within nine shots of clubhouse leader Hunter Mahan of the United States, who sits on top despite a historic run from his fellow countryman John Merrick.
'I wasn't hitting it that great and I didn't feel that good.'— American John Merrick on Friday's warm up
In the process, he jumped over Fritsch, who shot 1-over par on the second day of the tournament to fall to 2 under overall.
Merrick tied Greg Norman's course record from 1986 with a 10-under 62 on Friday and is 11-under for the tournament.
"I actually kind of had a really kind of bad warm up this morning. It was strange," said Merrick. "I wasn't hitting it that great and I didn't feel that good.
"Maybe that makes you focus a little bit more, try to figure out what's going on, and I was able to kind of work a couple things out and got off to a good start and eagled the second hole, which kind of calmed me down."
Fritsch was impressed with Merrick's score.
"I don't think they played all the holes today — 62," said Fritsch. "He probably played 16 holes."
Amateur Corey Conners (74) of Listowel, Ont., was at 1-over par, while Eugene Wong (71) of North Vancouver, B.C., was at 2 over.
Calgary's Stephen Ames (73) was 3-over par, while Peter Laws (74) of Milton, Ont., and amateur Adam Svensson (72) of Surrey, B.C., tied at 4 over. Bryn Parry (75) of North Vancouver, B.C., was at 8 over. Brian Hadley (75) of Sarnia, Ont., was at 10 over.
Weir, who's among 16 Canadians in the field of 156, is attempting to become the first Canadian golfer since Pat Fletcher in 1954 to win the national championship.
He has finished second in nine tournaments during his 22-plus years on the PGA Tour, among them a loss at the 2004 Canadian Open.
Weir began the final round on that memorable Sunday at Glen Abbey with a three-stroke lead over Vijay Singh, only to watch his relentless opponent sink a clutch eight-foot birdie putt on the tournament’s 72nd hole to force a playoff.
Weir blinked on the third playoff hole, the par-5 18th hole. After misfiring on his tee shot, he splashed his third shot into the water lining the 18th hole, giving Singh two putts to claim his seventh victory of the season.
Weir is playing better now than he did all of last year when he missed the cut in all 14 tournaments he played. He turned in a 28th-place showing at the U.S. Open last month and 27th-place finish at the recent John Deere Classic.