‘IT IS SUPER STRONG RIGHT NOW’
Canadian golf is rising as the Presidents Cup returns to the site of Weir’s big win
Mike Weir amassed a 13-9-2 record in five Presidents Cups and was a captain's assistant in 2017. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
From Moe Norman to Mike Weir, Canadian golf has never had a moment like this.
Four players in the top 100 in the world. And the newly 50 Weir, who will play in this week’s Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship at Firestone, is embarking on golf’s greatest mulligan, a second career on PGA TOUR Champions.
Oh, and by the way our neighbors to the north today were awarded the 2024 Presidents Cup, marking the second time The Royal Montreal Golf Club will host the event. The U.S. Team may have won by five points when the Presidents Cup first visited Canada in 2007, but the home fans left happy when Weir, their hero, toppled Tiger Woods in singles.
Woods was at the height of his powers when he arrived in Canada, winning four of his last five starts (and finishing T2 in the other). That stretch included a major win and the inaugural FedExCup. Weir toppling the sport’s Colossus was a moment of national pride for a people that takes great pride in its sporting achievements.
There’s a good chance Canadians will be able to cheer on one of their own four years from now.
“It is super strong right now,” Weir said about the state of golf in his homeland. “It’s good to see. Back when I was playing my best golf, I always felt like we had some talent, but for whatever reason some of those guys never broke through.
“Golf Canada and good coaching and sports psychology is helping these guys now, and they’re working hard and breaking through. The guys have done a great job with that.”
Adam Hadwin (60), Corey Conners (65), Mackenzie Hughes (74) and Nick Taylor (100) were ranked in the top 100 in the world last week. All have a PGA TOUR title on their resume, with Taylor winning his second earlier this year at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
All four played in the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, setting the record for most Canadians in a WGC field, and all four played in last week’s PGA Championship – yep, another record – with Hadwin and Hughes making the cut and finishing T58.
To some extent they were spawned by Weir, the face of Canadian golf since he won the 2003 Masters. And to some extent today’s announcement for 2024 comes back to his stirring singles victory over Woods at the ’07 Presidents Cup at joyous Royal Montreal, detonating either the first or second loudest sonic boomlet for Canadian golf in the last two decades.
It was a rollercoaster of a match. Weir was 3 up, and then 1 down. He birdied 17 to tie it up, and won the 18th and the match – and the undying admiration of golf-mad Canadian fans everywhere – with a conceded par after Woods hit his tee shot into a pond and couldn’t recover.
The headline in The New York Times read: U.S. Wins Presidents Cup, but Weir Steals the Show
“Yeah, it's right there with it,” Weir replied when asked how the moment compared to his Masters win. “Obviously winning the Masters was such a thrill, but to play Tiger, you know, obviously he's the best there is and I had to play my absolute best today to beat him.”
After conceding Weir’s final putt, Woods embraced the winner to thunderous applause. It was an instant classic, and it’s no stretch to say that they were and continue to be the face of American and Canadian golf, respectively. Their extensive Presidents Cup pedigrees play into that.
Woods was the playing captain for the U.S. Team at Royal Melbourne last December, and no one did more to help turn things around when the International Team stormed out to an early lead. Weir was an assistant to International Captain Ernie Els as they nearly pulled off the upset.
Weir amassed a 13-9-2 record in five Presidents Cups and was a captain's assistant in 2017. He is expected to figure prominently in the next four years. His 1-up win over Woods will no doubt be replayed on a loop in the minds of Canadian fans in the runup to Royal Montreal, which will become only the second course outside the U.S. to host multiple times. Designed by Dick Wilson and later updated by Rees Jones, it was founded in 1873 and is the oldest golf club in North America.
It also has hosted 10 RBC Canadian Opens.
“There’s a good chance that a few of us could end up representing the International Team there at Royal Montreal,” said Hadwin, a two-time Presidents Cup participant, “so that adds to the excitement as well.”
As the first Canadian to compete in the Presidents Cup, Weir would love to see it.
“Oh, totally,” he said. “I think that could really help if a few of those guys make the team for Royal Montreal, especially if they make the next team in 2022. When I played I was the only Canadian, so I was always trying to find a guy to play with.”
His foursomes and four ball partners included Els, Trevor Immelman, Nick Price, Robert Allenby, Tim Clark, Steve Elkington, Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh. (Honestly, Weir should have honorary South African/Australian/Fijian citizenship by now.) Could a small cadre of Canadian players on future teams create some more natural, lasting and potent partnerships?
“No matter how they get paired, it would just add that level of comfort,” Weir said. “If there are some guys you know from your home country it gives you that level of comfort and makes you feel good. That’s the one advantage the U.S. guys have. They all know each other really well.
“But one thing we noticed this last time (at Royal Melbourne),” he added, “is our camaraderie started coming around and we performed better, so if there are a couple of Canadian teammates on that (2024) team that would be awesome and potentially strengthen it even further.”
We can hardly wait.