Eyes of a Nation Focused on Weir

By Golf Channel NewsroomSeptember 7, 2004, 4:00 pm
Its not always easy playing in your hometown. There are certainly the comforts of home, but there are also the added pressure of expectations and the dealings with family and friends ' and those who claim to be friends.
Sometimes, though, youre representing more than your hometown, maybe your home state, like Wisconsin Jerry Kelly at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. And that means more pressure.
Then there are those who represent an entire country, like Mike Weir.
The hopes of a golfing nation seem to rest solely on the narrow shoulders of one Mike Weir. Its not the same for someone like Ernie Els or Greg Norman. They represent their respective countries, but they also have very talented countrymen to help shoulder the hopes and expectations of their homelands.
Weir is the face of Canadian golf. Sure, theres Stephen Ames. But hes a naturalized citizen. Weir is the only Canadian-born player in the top 250 on the Official World Golf Ranking. David Hearn is the second highest ranked Canadian at 273rd.
Therefore, you can only imagine how much pressure Weir ' a major winner, nonetheless ' must face when playing his National Open. Or how huge it would be if he were to finally win it.
I can only control my own expectations. My expectations are really just to go out there, enjoy myself, play well and really not get ahead of myself, Weir said prior to last years event.
This week there's a little bit greater of a challenge to really stay with that and not let the expectations get too high because everybody else's are.
This week will mark the 14th time Weir has competed in the Bell Canadian Open. And hes gradually getting better.
Weir, whose maiden PGA Tour victory came in the 1999 Air Canada Open in Vancouver, missed the cut each of the first nine times he competed in this championship. He finally qualified for the weekend in 2000, finishing 70th. He then tied for 34th in 2001 and tied for 22nd the following year. Last year, he finished 10th.
This is the first professional tournament I had ever seen live. I remember going to Glen Abbey with a bunch of junior golfers. We went down; a friend of mine's dad drove us down. We walked, we watched the tournament. We watched a clinic that Andy Bean and Tom Kite gave. So I have great memories of the Canadian Open as a spectator, he said.

Now playing it, it will be that much more special to win it, from having those memories of even Monday qualifying when I was an amateur in college and getting in and playing for the first time to now, to the point I'm at now. So it would mean a great deal.
Weir's progression in this event could be attributed to the fact that he is continually getting better, and better able to handle the situation. Or maybe he just likes a change of venue. This years Bell Canadian will take place at Glen Abbey Golf Club (par 71, 7,212 yards) in Oakville, Ontario. Its the fourth different tournament host in as many years.
He may not like this change, however, as this is where eight of his nine missed cuts have occurred.
Weir got off to a good start this season, successfully defending his title in the Nissan Open and recording two other top-5 finishes. But since his repeat at Riviera in February, he has only two top-10s -- at the U.S. Open (T4) and British Open (T9), and five missed cuts. He missed only one cut last season, and missed just seven cuts combined from 2001-2003.
Glen Abbey is no stranger to the event; it has played host to 22 of the last 27 Canadian Opens.
The other three courses to be used over the last 27 years are Royal Montreal (1980, 1997 and 2001), Angus Glen (2002) and Hamilton Golf and Country Club (2003).
Bob Tway won last years edition in Hamilton, Ontario. He defeated Brad Faxon on the third playoff hole. It was the second consecutive playoff for the tournament, which had John Rollins defeat Neal Lancaster and Justin Leonard in extra holes in 2002.
This is the 95th edition of the event, which was first played in 1904. No tournaments were held in 1915-18, due to World War I, nor in 1943-44, due to World War II.
The last Canadian to win was Pat Fletcher in 1954.
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.