Weir's Woes A National Issue?

Is this it? Mike Weir withdraws from PGA Tour event in Puerto Rico, national crisis ensues.

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But it turns out we’re not the only ones having problems.

Yesterday Mike Weir withdrew from the golf tournament in Puerto Rico after nine holes citing a cyst on his wrist. He was also 5-over par, and as one person tweeted, he’s 37-over par in his last 81 holes.

All of this has yielded one of those most dislikable of species — the self-congratulating reporter. Toronto Sun columnist Steve Buffery wrote that Weir was washed up in a preview to the Canadian Open last year. Now he’s proclaiming that yep, he was right all along, and putting it to Sun golf columnist Ian Hutchinson as well.Nothing worse than a columnist patting himself on the back and going back and forth with another writer in the same paper. Buffery writes:

Well, sorry Hutch. Sorry crazed golf nuts. It doesn’t appear as though Weir is going to “rebound in spectacular fashion” anytime soon.

Clearly it’s all over.

And that’s not a personal shot at Weir, who is nothing but a consummate gentleman and wonderful ambassador for Canadian golf. And that’s not to say the Brights Grove native, who turns 41 in May, won’t manage a fluke top-five finish here and there as his career fades into the twilight. Yes, he’s experienced injuries and other setbacks in recent seasons, but the fact is, his game has been deteriorating for some time and he’s simply not going to rebound into an elite player on the PGA Tour like he once was.

Poor Weirsy hasn’t won a PGA tour event since 2007. Last season, bad elbow and all, he managed one top 10 finish. This year has been an unmitigated disaster, despite the fact he’s healthy. Playing on a five-tournament medical exemption, Weir missed the cut in four (walking off the course at the Honda Classic last week after shooting a miserable 85 in the second round). And the cruellest cut of all, he lost his status as a fully-exempt member of the PGA Tour.

Saying it is all over is a tough call in golf. Hell, David Duval disappeared, but almost won the U.S. Open after everyone said he was through. Oh, and then there’s Steve Stricker, who couldn’t find a fairway for three years, but has won six times since. The list goes on and on. Only those who lack an understanding of the game would suggest Weir’s career is over. But if simplicity is what you want in your sports writing so be it.

Now I’m not an apologist for Weir, as Bob Weeks has been accused of over at ScoreGolf. Now Bob ghost writes Weir’s blogs, so he has some insight into what’s going on, just as Mike Grange did at the Globe when Weir “wrote” a column for that paper a few years back. That said, I doubt Weeks had much writing to do with the latest missive from Weir, which was posted on his site earlier this week:

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the people who have continued to show their support of me over the last few weeks, especially the volunteers and fans at the Honda Classic last week. They were incredibly supportive and encouraging, and I want everyone to know how much I appreciate it. It means a lot to me to know that there are so many people who believe in me, even when times are tough.

Tough times indeed. I wrote about my perspective on Weir here:

Weir started the season talking about “owning his swing.” Now it looks like his swing has owned him.

How far has the former Masters champ fallen? After returning this year following a lengthy layoff due to an elbow injury, Weir made one cut in five starts. He posted a single round in the 60s this year  – a 68 at Spyglass Hill during the AT&T Pebble Beach National —  though more typically he was slamming the trunk of his courtesy car by the end of Friday afternoon after shooting 74. His driving – which has been erratic in recent years – is a disaster, with Weir missing the fairway equally right and left. His stats show him to be basically last among tour players in driving accuracy and distance – a combination that guarantees inflated scores.

Weir’s ball striking problems are both humbling and troubling, but his short game, always the envy of his peers, has also suffered as his confidence wanes. Think of it like a Gold Glove infielder who suddenly can’t hit the curve ball. As the ball player struggles at the plate, eventually his plight works its way into his fielding and he makes some errors on easy plays. Weir, typically a terrific putter, has found his spotty play affecting his short game and he currently sitting at 152 with the flat stick.

Despite not regaining his playing privileges – Weir had five starts as part of an injury exemption to make enough money to match the 125th golfer from last season – he’ll still get plenty of starts throughout the year. And he has two year’s worth of exemptions based on his place on the all-time PGA Tour money list. So he’s not going anywhere – at least not for a couple of years.


What I fail to understand is the venomous attacks on the golfer. Is he playing badly? Yep. Does that make him some sort of national disappointment? Hardly. I was sitting in the golf shop at Eagles Nest earlier this week talking with head pro Jamie Trenholme and he brought this point up, saying the Globe and Mail’s Jeff Blair was ranting  on the Fan 590 about Weir. Trenholme couldn’t understand why people seemed to be focusing anger at Weir, as if he’d done something warranting it.

I understand the feeling Weir might not come back, but why the nasty anger that seems to be associated with it? Weir is the best professional golfer in Canadian history. He’s the only one we’ve had who won a major (and I believe he won The Masters, unlike others who think Len Mattiace choked and handed Weir the win). He’s represented Canada in the Presidents Cup numerous times — the only one of our countrymen to do so and broke the hearts of Canadian golf fans by narrowly losing the 2004 Canadian Open to Vijay Singh.

He’s got enough money that he could walk away from the game — but that’s not his style. People forget Weir is the same man who went to Q-School seven times before getting his card, who rebounded after losing his card to win in his second year on tour.

Weir is surely down — certainly lower than he’s been in more than a decade — but I think it is too easy to count him out.

And if he is finished, let’s celebrate a great career instead of taking the typically Canadian approach and dumping on him for not living up to our ridiculous expectations.

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Jeff Lancaster

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Robert,

    Canadians are very critical when it comes to a grand stage. The first few days of lasts years Olympics was a great example. The opening ceremonies malfunction and the athletes performances were criticized. Melissa Hollingsworth summed it up best last year with the pressure we put on athletes.

    He has a lot of areas to improve at and the guys you listed have tried to comeback for a few years but they were also younger. Mike could find is game again soon and still be have a few years left on tour but he’s much older than the guys you mentioned who made their comebacks earlier.

    Time in a factor here and the game has changed from the Weir’s glory years. His style of play makes it tough to compete weekly against the big guns and the courses they play. Luke Donald is the only golfer that plays like that has been really consistent out there and he’s playing out of this world.

    Mike has had an amazing career and it may continue. If not, what he’ll do next will really cement his legacy as a Canadian icon.

  • I like Weir, but the constant cheerleading from Weekes and Rubenstein is nauseating. The backlash is likely better directed at some fawning media coverage as opposed to Weir himself.

  • Golf is a hard game… the margin between on and off tour is so slim.

    one more good drive and one more putt that drops, that’s the difference between 73-73 and missing the cut and 71-71 and finishing your week with a top 25 if you play a good round in the weekend.

    Plus, if you fool around the top 50 in the world, you get invited to a couple of no cut tournaments, play for the bigger purse etc.

    If Mike comes back, great for him… if he’s over, it was a great run.
    But I doubt he’s the kind of man who would go down without a fight.

    And more importantly, blaming him for bad play is stupid… he’s been a great ambassador of canadian golf for 15 years on tour.

  • Weir got lucky and won a Masters. Other than that his career has been decent, but not really much more than that. It is BECAUSE he’s Canadian that his accomplishments have been exaggerated by the Canadian media rather than looking more realistically at his achievements. There shouldn’t be some unwritten rule that it’s un-patriotic or wrong in some way to look at whether he’s finished or not. I don’t look at him any different than I look at other golfers on tour and I am not inclined to cut him any more slack in my amateur analysis just because he’s from my Country. To hear him repeatedly say “I’m not worried about it” this year when questioned about not earning his card, was really quite disturbing because although he may have quite a few sponsors’ exemptions, he really should be quite worried about the form of his game. I’ll be very surprised if we see anything good out of Weir ever again.

    • I believe the point is the tone of the criticisms of Mike Weir. RT referenced “anger” in his post above. The anger or emotion directed toward Weir is the issue…not whether people have reasoned arguments or opinions on whether Weir’s career is effectively over.

      It is also unfair to say that Weir got lucky when he won the Masters. What luck was involved? Len Mattice blowing up on the final playoff hole? Well, if that is the case, there are plenty of “lucky” majors winners out there with opponents who blew up on the final hole (s).

      I am not an apologist for Weir but would question whether his career is over. He has a documented history of coming back when his fortunes have gone south in the past. Not saying it is a foregone conclusion that he will return to his former self but it is also not out of the question that he can return to his former elite position.

    • X_tra,
      I’m interested in your comment about Weir winning the Masters because he got lucky. Can you tell me what luck you are referring to?

      With regard to his having a “decent career” I agree. 337 Tournaments – 244 Cuts Made – 68 Top 10’s – 138 Top 25’s – A Green Jacket, WG Championship, Tour Championship and a couple of wins at Riviera – 5 Presidents Cup appearances – $27M in Career Earnings (12th All Time). Decent for sure.

  • Mike we have tremendous respect for you as Canandian and golfer. I still remeber the very warm and respectful hug Tiger gave you on one of the Canadian Events. We are all cheering for you and we hope you make a speedy recovery from what ever physical problem.

  • All good things come to an end. We must always remember the pride we felt as Canadians the day he wore the green jacket. However, now we need to let him depart gracefully. I can only hope that again, in my lifetime a Canadian golfer will make us as proud as we felt that day at Augusta. Looking down the leader board at every PGA event I am always disheartened by our show as a country. Keep hoping that our new light is shining. So far it’s pretty dim.

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