Canadians Still Idolize Weir

OAKVILLE, ONTARIO | The young boy walking along the second hole at Glen Abbey Golf Club can’t quite say why he’s watching a golfer who hasn’t been in the top 10 at a PGA Tour event in nearly four years and is six years from his last win. But when asked why’s he’s there, the boy is clear as crystal. “Mike Weir,” says the boy, striding just outside the ropes with his father. “He’s a Canadian and a hero,” says an older man, overhearing my question. “We’ll always follow him.” Which is why, as Weir’s game appears to be finally coming out of hibernation, there were a few thousand people following him around Glen Abbey, site of last week’s RBC Canadian Open. In past years those watching Weir might have to be excused for watching simply out of a sense of nostalgia. They remembered the wins that made Weir among the best in the world. And it wasn’t just the 2003 Masters, it was the Tour Championship, the two victories at Riviera, beating Tiger Woods head-to-head at the Presidents Cup in Montreal. They idolized Weir as a golfer from small town Ontario who went to PGA Tour Qualifying School time and again, dug it out of the dirt and made himself one of the best in the world. If someone like Weir – thin and wiry, short in stature – could do it, then surely other Canadians could as well. The fans have are nostalgic because for the past few years Weir has had little else to offer. Derailed by injuries, with a surgically repaired elbow and three lost seasons, Weir is on the comeback trail. Last year he missed the cut in all 14 tournaments he entered on the PGA Tour. At the Canadian Open in Hamilton last year he looked lost, flaring drives into trees and swamps, seemingly embarrassed by how far his game had fallen. That’s what made his play at this year’s Canadian Open so refreshing. On Day 1, he hit 16 of 18 greens, but his putter let him down. On Day 2, he flirted with an exceptional round, before a couple of late bogeys made it simply very good. Regardless, Weir knows he has come a long way. “I’ve worked extremely hard,” said Weir after carding a second round 67, which was hurt by bogeys on three of the final four holes. “Even when things are going badly I try to remind myself of where I was a year ago. A year ago from now was a huge difference.” A year ago at Hamilton he was likely to find trees than a fairway, and at the time often struggled to break 80. Many wrote him off, while those that thought Weir might find his moribund game were accused of being apologists for Canada’s greatest player. Names like David Duval and Ian Baker-Finch were kicked about, golfers who lost their way, then their games and never recovered. Weir may not be the same golfer who nearly won at Glen Abbey almost a decade ago, but through two rounds at the Canadian Open he wasn’t far off. He was aggressive and putted with occasional brilliance. His driving was solid, allowing him to attack flags. One thing that has changed from his salad days is Weir’s enthusiasm for the Canadian Open. Once it seemed like a burden, with heavy demands placed on his time and the expectation that he’d somehow take the entire country on his back and still find a way to win. Few players can elevate their games for one tournament, and Weir never seemed comfortable with what was placed on him. Coming into this year’s Canadian Open there was no expectation. While a T28 at the U.S. Open demonstrates he’s making progress, no one was talking about Weir winning.


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