Weir hopes to salvage year

Readers keep sending me e-mails about Mike Weir keep so I’ll continue writing about Canada’s most high-profile male golfer. How is he doing? What’s his schedule for the rest of the year? What does playing in his first Presidents Cup mean to him?

I’ll answer the latter question first.

Weir, who turned 30 this year and became a father for the second time, made it a goal of his to qualify for the Presidents Cup team. This competition started in 1994 and pits a team of 12 United States players against 12 players from outside the U.S. and Europe. It’s golf filling in the void left by the Ryder Cup, which excludes golfers outside the U.S. and Europe.

The Presidents Cup, then, allows golfers such as Australians Greg Norman, Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby, Zimbabwean Nick Price, Fijian Vijay Singh, and South African Ernie Els, to compete in a match play format over three days against the likes of Tiger Woods and Davis Love III. The International team won the last event, held in Australia, so there’s plenty of interest as the competition returns to the U.S. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Club will be the venue from October 20-22.

The international stageP>

A number of people had e-mailed me earlier this year inquiring as to whether Weir was eligible for the International side. The answer was yes, yes, yes. Canada, after all, is not part of the U.S. or Europe. It qualifies as an “International” country for the purpose of the Presidents Cup. Weir, who won the Air Canada Championship in Vancouver last year on his way to a breakthrough season, wanted to make the team because of his play. Ten golfers qualify for the Presidents Cup teams on the basis of their performances, while the captains of the team each have two wild-card choices.

Weir admits he hasn’t had a particularly satisfying season, but he was seventh among international players on the World Ranking through August’s PGA Championship, the end of the qualifying period. The top 10-ranked international golfers qualified automatically, so Weir got in.

“I’m glad Mike qualified for the team and that I didn’t have to pick him,” Peter Thomson, the five-time British Open champion who is the captain of the International side, said during an exchange of correspondence I had with him. Weir’s play meant that Thomson could use one of his picks for another player.

A sub-par year

Notwithstanding his making the team, Weir feels he hasn’t played near to his capabilities this year. He’s 35th on the PGA Tour’s money list with $1,027,379-a handsome living, yes. But he says that last year he was in contention the last nine holes of a tournament six or seven times, and of course he won once. This year he hasn’t been in contention heading into the last nine holes.

Some folks have sent e-mails wondering whether Weir is playing enough this year. They don’t seem to notice his name in tournaments very often. Yet he has played 23 tournaments, which puts his participation in the top 15 or 20% of all PGA Tour golfers. Maybe golf-watchers haven’t noticed his name often because he hasn’t been on television as tournaments unfold.

“My whole game has been just a little off,” Weir says. “It’s not that there’s anything really wrong with it in a big way. I can’t even say what it is.”

Weir will play three more PGA Tour events before the Presidents Cup. He’d like to move up into the top 30 money-winners so that he can qualify for the lucrative, limited-field Tour Championship at the end of the season. That means a move of five spots. Weir figures he can take care of that business with decent play during his scheduled three tournaments.

“I’m not going to add anything to my schedule to try to make the Tour Championship,” Weir says. Hidden in that statement was Weir’s self-confidence, despite his rusty play this year. He knows he can make enough money in those three tournaments to qualify for the Tour Championship.

It won’t take but a single tournament for Weir to regain his momentum. He says that the attention from Canada on him this year has been both exciting and overwhelming. He senses the interest in his participation in the Presidents Cup. The year is not over yet. Not by any stretch. For Mike Weir, now in the middle of an enforced long break after the Air Canada Championship and the Bell Canadian Open, the season could well just be starting.

This much is certain: Weir is looking forward to the rest of the season as if it’s a new one. That being the case, the best of the season could well be around the corner.