Weir's comeback starts this week

Mike Weir: Returns this week at Pebble.

Lots of Canadian interest in Mike Weir this week, as the golfer makes his comeback six months after elbow surgery.

My Sympatico column is about Weir, largely stemming from a phone call I had with him two weeks ago:

For Mike Weir, it has been a long time. A long time since he didn’t hurt when swinging a golf club. A long time since he knew exactly what flight and direction his drives would take. A long time since he could put in the hours on the range that made him one of the best players on the PGA Tour.

But after surgery for a tendon tear in his right elbow last year, Weir returns to professional golf this week at Pebble Beach for the first time in six months. It was his second layoff in what can only be described as two lost years when he should have been at the peak of his powers as a golfer. His confidence is surely fragile, but in the past weeks Weir has been hiding in the California desert, hitting balls under the watchful eye of a friend, and testing his meddle on the course. Slowly he’s recognizing the feeling and positions of his old swing that led to eight wins on tour.

“The best way to describe it is that I have the ‘ah ha’ moment where I remember the feel I want,” Weir said from his home in Utah. “A lot of good things are happening because I can go for it. It is familiar. My golf swing is starting to feel like my own again.”

I understand there’s been a lot written about Weir — but i’m particularly fascinated to see whether he can find his form again, and especially whether he can rebuild his confidence, which was undoubtedly shattered by his poor performance over the past two years.

Turns out I’m not the only one. Bob Weeks at Score, who is at Pebble Beach, spoke with Weir yesterday, and included this tidbit on his blog:

“I don’t know if it will ever be 100 per cent,” said Weir after showing me his new zipper, a five-inch semi-circle on his right elbow. “I mean it’s totally good enough to play. Dr. Andrews assured me I can’t reinjure it now, it’s good and secured on there. It still has a little bit of tightness, the tendon still has to lengthen out a little big more and that just happens over time and my body has to get used to hitting balls and I think that strength and repetitive motion will hopefully stretch that out and hopefully I’ll be good to go. I feel totally fine. I don’t even think about it when I’m playing.”

Ian Hutchinson at the Sun didn’t speak to Weir, but he got an interesting perspective from Richard Zokol:

“Those moments when you ask those questions to yourself, you’re asking your true self opposed to your ego. Deep down, you’ll know whether it’s time to throw in the towel or time to get on your horse,” said Zokol.

“Those things are the moments of truth to each player. Every player believes in their heart that they can do this. There’s no doubt about it and Mike can. Whether he’s going about it the right way, it’s his decision and those are the hurdles that he, specifically, has to overcome,” he said.

“Does it guarantee that he’ll do it because he wants it badly? No, it doesn’t, but he believes he can do it and he’s setting out a plan to do it,” said Zokol.

Tinkering with your swing may help, but Zokol believes too much emphasis is put on mechanics.

“I’ve said this to Mike,” said Zokol. “When he’s played his best, he’s not thinking about his golf swing.

“Whether it’s Tiger Woods trying to look at his golf swing through Sean Foley, or Mike Weir trying to look at his golf swing through stack and tilt, you forget about playing golf when you’re thinking about the golf swing,” he said.

 Does Weir want it badly? Does he want to demonstrate he can make it back to those who have written him off? Or at 41 is he through after having had two horrible years? I wouldn’t read too much into this week either way — but he’s got to get back to tournament golf, and his past experience at Pebble suggests this is a good place to start.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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  • I remember following Weir at Pebble Beach back in 2003. He ended up 3rd that year but I followed Weir on the Saturday as he flew up the leaderboard. He had a small following so we could get close to the action. He was solid off the tee with a short game that was on fire (holing chip shot on 6). I remember his crisp iron shots and solid all round putting. He was a joy to watch. Hope he can re-capture some of that magic this week on a course he obviously loves to play (as do most of the Pros I suspect…).

    Interesting, he was playing with Wayne Gretzky that year and of the crowd that did follow the Weir group, they were likely split 50/50 following Gretzky vs. Weir. Gretzky was friendly with all the fans signing autographs and making small talk. However, his golf game left a lot to be desired…I think because of back issues….or that was the excuse being thrown around…Gretz was quite self deprecating…

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