September 9, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 6  

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Weir saves Canadian Open

Under review
Ian Denomme

Sports Editor

The Canadian Open, which is now the PGA's only stop in Canada, was held in Hamilton over the weekend. If it weren't for Mike Weir nobody would've known.

The tournament has been faltering in many aspects over the last few years. The world's top players have stopped coming and attendance and TV ratings have been down as well.

However, with Weir's Masters victory in April came a new widespread interest in Canadian golf. Weir single-handedly made this year's Canadian Open tournament worth watching.

The Open field lacked many of golf's big names. No Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk or Phil Mickelson. In fact, only two of the world's top 17 golfers were at the tournament. It's become a much different scene from what it once was.

At one time the Canadian Open was considered by many players as the fifth major. It was a highly competitive event which all the players wanted to win. Winning the Canadian Open, along with the US Open and the British Open, was considered a sort of golf Triple Crown. There's even a trophy (albeit a very ugly one) awarded to a player who wins all three.

Now with the rising popularity of golf in Canada due to Weir's historic victory at Augusta, the tournament is beginning to regain some of its prestige.

Despite Weir's history of poor performances at the Canadian Open, all eyes were on him this weekend as he was the odds on favourite to win. He finished in 10th place, an improvement from his 22nd place finish last year. Weir has improved his placing every year since he started playing in the event.

With Weir being the Master's champion there's an enormous amount of pressure placed on him. He's the poster boy for Canadian golf and the entire country's hopes rest on his shoulders.

He's no longer simply Mike Weir from Bright's Grove, Ontario. He is now, and forever will be, Master's Champion Mike Weir from Bright's Grove, Ontario.

He seems to take his new found pressure and celebrity in stride. He's very soft-spoken and seems to not have let the pressure get to his head. He's also continued to perform well throughout the season and is one of the favourites to win the PGA's player of the year award, which Tiger Woods has won the last four straight years.

With the Canadian Open now being the only PGA tour event in Canada it's important it continues to be as strong as possible, especially with Weir's growing popularity.

Weir himself said it was the first golf tournament he ever went to and as the sport continues to grow in Canada it's important there's a tournament for other future stars.

Even though Weir didn't win, he still did what was needed for the tournament. He brought an interest back to the Open which had been lacking. He got people to go out and see him and said he's even been telling his colleagues on the tour what a great tournament it is. That all bodes well for its future.



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