On the Weir/RBC conference call today, the bank and the RCGA announced a partnership with Mike Weir’s charity foundation, including a Monday “Mike Weir Charity Classic,” celebrity tournament.
As part of the announcement, it was announced there will a series of celebrities involved, including NBA star Steve Nash.
But it was the PGA Tour names that were impressive, especially this early in the game, with the tournament months away. Those named include Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas, Luke Donald, Fred Couples, and Mark Calcavecchia. And of course, Stephen Ames, though I’m not sure that needed saying.
Interesting to see the names involved — an indication of the respect most of his peers have for Weir and for RBC’s bank account. Clearly with a number of sponsors struggling, it looks like RBC’s cash and strong financial position versus other sponsors (Stanford Financial anyone?) is finally starting to draw bigger names earlier.
When asked about the position of the tournament, Weir said the RCGA and RBC are “going the right things,” but added the situation is “not going to switch overnight.”
Once again, Weir said that golf courses are key to luring players. Note there was no comment on Glen Abbey, a course he now respects but will never be fond of.
“I think there’s a lot more interest among players for the event,” Weir said. “It got a lot of noteriety playing in Hamilton and it caught the interest of players who have respect for the history of the game and those old classic golf courses.”
And those courses, as well as RBC’s involvement, are apparently making it easier for Weir to be an ambassador for the event.
“I’m not out there telling the guys to come out and play,” he said. “It is more them coming up to me, which is a nice change.”
As for other big names — or the biggest — Weir wouldn’t say he was reaching out to Tiger.
“He doesn’t talk much about schedule and I don’t talk schedule with him,” Weir said. “He has a plan for everything.”
So what’s the overall result of this? Weir said he doesn’t feel like there’s any more pressure on him to sell the tournament. Clearly Weir/IMG are becoming more linked with the Canadian Open and are more comfortable aligning themselves with it. The player field is certainly better just with the players announced. Kim, Villegas, Weir, Ames, Immelman and Donald are all in the Top 50 players in the year. And that makes this a stronger field than the tournament has had in a few years. On top of that, Kim and Villegas are both draws — young stars that people will want to see play.