Mike Weir Almost Wins The Canadian Open
by Scott A. Sumner
Sitting 5 feet away from Mike Weir in the media centre and listening to him tell Canada how "It wasn't meant to be" was quite painful. You could see the emotion in this nice mans face and hear it in his voice. We all felt for him, but there was nothing you could do. Under a pressure that seemed unbearable, even to those watching, he gave it his best shot and came up short.
I began Mike's day by watching him warm up at the practice range. He has a very specific routine that involves some putts, irons from wedges to long, woods and then some more chipping around the green, sand shots and putts from set distances after he places three tees down. There is a long strategy meeting with his caddie and then its off to the first tee. This was his same approach every day. His shots looked very good with a long straight flight path. He wass holing putts and pitching close to the hole. Different today though was he was getting cheers for his practice shots! Amazingly not as many of the 25,000 people at the Bell Canadian Open were near the practice area where you could get a close up look at Mike. But when he arrived at the first tee box you could see the magnitude of the support. The noise was very loud, with Go Mike calls in abundance. I thought to myself this is going to be tough to handle for the quiet spoken man with all of Canada on his shoulders. One of the Toronto writers said it best when he thought Mike should have tried to get the magnitude of the event off his mind by thinking of the tournament as just another event at the end of the year. Most of the Americans don't even really care about the event. It wasn't the Masters, just another PGA Tour event. But of course it wasn't to Mike and as he said about the pressure, he felt it on "every shot"!
I followed Mike for his first holes as did almost everyone else at Glen Abbey. He started well, with a great drive and par. The next hole was a tee shot astray and resulted in a double bogey. I thought this could be a long day but Mike came back with several birdies and at one point had a 4 shot lead. It was a three putt on 13 and 16 that really hurt Mike and you just knew it was going to be difficult. The pressure was mounting it seemed, and with newly crowned World Number 1, Vijay Singh around somehow you felt he would be in the mix. You were right and both players ended up in a playoff.
I remembered the World Cup semi final hockey game I attended the night before at the ACC where Canada beat the Czecks in OT. Maybe it would be a good omen for Mike. There the atmosphere was highly charged and it felt the same at Glen Abbey. It wasnt to be.
Mike had his chances to win including some missed short putts but in the end it was Vijay Singh taking his seventh win of the year and even more cementing his position atop the golfing world, taking over from Tiger Woods. "I never really felt comfortable on the greens over the weekend said Mike Weir. Maybe I just tried too hard" And that was all that could be said. Mike Weir didn't have to prove himself to me. Winning the Masters and seven times on the PGA Tour did that, including his first win at Vancouver in the old ACC Championship. He is the best Canadian golfer of all time and like he said in his press conference "I'll be back"