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Mike Weir takes big step on PGA's comeback trail

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Todd bogey-free in Nelson finish for 1st PGA win
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Mike Weir hits off the first tee during the final round of the Byron Nelson Championship golf tournament, Sunday, May 18, 2014, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

So, another PGA Tour Sunday, another winner you have to Google and Wikipedia and try to find an angle where there may not be one, so you know what?

Let's talk about the runner-up.

No disrespect intended. Huge congratulations to 28-year-old Brendon Todd for his first PGA Tour win at the Byron Nelson in Texas. We'll get to him in the next segment.

To be honest, Todd's triumph falls victim to a too-frequent 2014 storyline – the Champion Nobody's Heard Of. It's intriguing for a while. But after so many tournaments ending in a Matt Jones win, or a Steven Bowditch win, or a Matt Every win, the storyline gets redundant: While the stars hibernate, and while Tiger Woods rehabs off the radar, the Tour is being defined by a new generation whom we just don't quite know yet. Even Todd himself said after his win, "This is sort of what it was like before Tiger, right?"

As for the runner-up? Him, we know.

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Mike Weir shot a 67 in the final round of the Byron Nelson. (Getty Images)

That's why Mike Weir gets his turn in the spotlight here.

Mike Weir! I bet a bunch of you thought he had retired and was playing semipro hockey in Moose Jaw. At least I did.

For you kids out there, Mike Weir – or, "Weirsy" to the hockey-loving Canadian golf fans out there – was once Masters champion, back in 2003. True story. He has the green jacket to prove it.

He won a WGC event, too. Held off Lee Westwood at the 2000 American Express. True story. He won a Tour Championship, too. Held off Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia and David Toms back in 2001. True story.

Weir was not only a top-10-in-the-world regular from 2001-05, he was once No. 3 in the world. Now, get this: Weir entered the Byron Nelson ranked – wait for it – 609th in the world.

When CBS' Bill Macatee mentioned that, I nearly spit out my lager. I didn't know the OWGR computer worked overtime like that. Looked it up, and saw that Weir's 609th ranking was actually an improvement from his end-of-2013 rank of 631.

How unlikely was Mike Weir's Sunday 67 at Las Colinas, his 12-under total just two strokes shy of Todd's winning total? Consider: This was Weir's best finish on Tour since 2009.

Two thousand and nine! Think of the things that have happened in golf since then:

• Rory McIlroy won two majors, soared to No. 1, signed with Nike, and now is flirting with a Mike Weir-styled disappearance from the scene. (Kidding, Rors. Kidding! Just trying to fire you up, kid. You know how this column digs your swing.)

• It was so long ago, Tiger Woods was only one year removed from his last major, as opposed to his current six years.

• The Golf Boys hadn't formed, or recorded any hot singles. Now, they have two.

Like I was saying, Weir's last appearance on the scene was a long time ago.

What happened to Weir? A torn elbow ligament didn't help. Neither did torn confidence. And torn desire, as his kids grew older and the diminutive left-hander wondered if he should be at home more. He shuffled through instructor after instructor and, all the while, the golf world zoomed past him. Negative results begat negative results.

In 2011, he made 15 starts. He made two cuts.

In 2012, he went oh-fer. Fourteen starts. Fourteen missed cuts.

At one point, he'd missed 36 of 39 cuts. He was probably wondering if Augusta National was going to lose his Champions Dinner invite in the mail.

This year was no bargain, either. He stuck a peg in the ground to start the 2014 calendar year in Honolulu at the Sony Open. Seven missed cuts and a withdrawal later, it was darn-near Easter. His made-cut at the Texas Open at the end of March must have felt like another green jacket.

And then Weir quietly played well at Quail Hollow two weeks ago, and was in the Sunday conversation before a 77 removed him from our minds. But he felt something good. And he turned it into a Thursday 68 at the Nelson. And then, critically, a Friday 66 to make the cut and start changing minds. On moving day Saturday, Weir moved more to the forefront, one shot back of Todd and Louis Oosthuizen with a third-round 67.

Sunday's 67 was six birdies, two bogeys and some obviously keyed-up golf from Weir. His attempt at a birdie at 17 to get within one lipped out, and Weir jumped into the air ever so briefly, adrenalized, charged, loving being in the hunt.

It was neat to see. He's 44 now. He's got a hop in his step, the respect of his peers for his stick-to-it attitude and, like most Canadians, offends no one.

"Weirsy" proved as tough as his hockey-playing countrymen. He took many blows, and he's still fighting. Let's see what happens next.

SCORECARD OF THE WEEK

68-64-68-66 – 14-under 280, Brendon Todd, winner, HP Byron Nelson Championship, TPC Las Colinas, Irving, Texas.

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Brendon Todd is the fifth Georgia Bulldog to win on the PGA Tour this year. (AP)

Talk about going and getting it. Todd has his own comeback story, and he seized it with a final-round 66, bogey-free, full of clutch scrambles and par saves. For a guy who admits that he's very proud of his short game, he said his work at the Nelson was extra-special, saying he "scored my pants off."

That was never truer than at the 13th hole, when Todd's tee shot on the par-3 hole made "stymie" a dirty word. His golf ball was nestled against a tree, and he had no shot. No right-handed shot, that is. So Todd got creative and showed the chutzpah a winner shows: He pulled a 4-iron, thought about the stroke he uses with his brother-in-law's left-handed putter, made that lefty stroke with the back side of the 4-iron, and somehow rolled the ball down a hill, onto the green and died it seven feet from the cup.

He made the putt. If that's scoring your pants off, Todd walked to the 14th tee in his boxer shorts only.

He did it again on 17, facing 13 feet for a par save after missing the green. Weir was two shots back, and the idea of a one-shot lead on a water-lined 18th hole was enough to make Todd start thinking about 77 starts without a win, and about his 2010 and '11 years on Web.com, when he missed 27 of 37 cuts.

Todd made the putt. His pants stayed on, but metaphorically, they were off again.

Todd is yet another in the now-long line of University of Georgia products to make a splash with a win this year, led by Masters champ Bubba Watson and fellow Bulldogs Russell Henley, Chris Kirk and Harris English. If only the football team could deliver like this. Oh! Hey, now.

One note of gossip: Asked after his win if he expected congratulations from Bubba and the Dawgs, Todd was quick to say, "No, I'm not close with Bubba. I don't expect to hear from him. The rest, I do."

BROADCAST MOMENT OF THE WEEK

"You have to have practiced that shot somewhere, otherwise you won't know how it's going to come out … all in all, that is brilliant." – Peter Kostis, CBS, on Todd's left-handed chip on No. 13.

And here's the thing – as far as Todd said in his victory news conference, he never has practiced that shot.

He said he used 4-iron only because it was the longest club in his bag, and told that story about his brother-in-law's left-handed putter. He admitted he was just trying to get it on the green. Lo and behold, magic.

MULLIGAN OF THE WEEK

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Byron Nelson reacts after his missed birdie attempt. (Getty Images)

Let's go back to Mike Weir, who was playing with the sort of fire the usually placid lefty is not known for.

He could smell a chance at his first win since 2007, and birded four of his first five holes. Weir was co-leader with Todd, as Oosthuizen, still searching for consistency amid his injuries, backslid with a 74.

But Weir bogeyed Nos. 6 and 9, and you wondered if he'd implode on the back nine, losing confidence yet again.

Instead, Weir birdied 13 and, after a bummer of a bogey on No. 15, bounced right back with a birdie at 16. He knifed his tee shot on 17 to six feet, and had a great look at birdie and a one-shot deficit.

Except! The putt lipped out. That's when we saw Weir leap, emotional. He was feeling it. And he felt the near-miss of a 71st hole lip-out, and all that it entails.

So because Weir is a good story, and we love drama as much as the next Byron Nelson-watcher, let's go back out to 17, fire up Weirsy by reminding him the Stanley Cup playoffs are in the conference finals, place that golf ball six feet from the cup again and … give that man a mulligan!

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

The "Metroplex Slam" continues as we move from Irving, Texas, to Fort Worth, Texas, for the Colonial, a place so dripping with history that its famous personalities like Ben Hogan and Dan Jenkins made it known before there ever was such a word as "Metroplex."

The defending champ is Boo Weekley, but all eyes on the new world No. 1, Adam Scott, who will tee it up as the grand poobah for the first time. Eight of the world's top 25 are coming, including another fortysomething-comeback story, Jim Furyk. Winner gets the red plaid jacket, so that can't be a bad thing.

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