A Homegrown Moment

By Ian HutchinsonSeptember 30, 2007, 4:00 pm
MONTREAL -- The Canadian flag flew above the nearby clubhouse at Royal Montreal as Tiger Woods looked more Canadian than Mike Weir, decked out in a red shirt, red vest and white cap, while Weir wore a blue shirt and gray pants on the putting green.
There was no doubt, however, about who the partisan fans standing nearby were about to cheer, even though some of them looked more like Tiger this day.
Jeff Tom and his seven-year-old son Quinn had little, red maple leafs painted on their faces and wore Cat in the Hat headwear that also resembled the Canadian flag. Still, Tiger is Tiger and Canadians are always thrilled with a visit from the worlds No. 1 player.
Jeff and Quinn would have been at North Americas oldest established club no matter what, but the buzz they had heard about a possible Weir-Woods showdown was delicious, especially when International captain Gary Player announced it was reality.
Its awesome to see this many people come out to Montreal. Its phenomenal, said Jeff. We came all the way from Vancouver to see it. My son is seven. Hes a golfer and hes so excited about seeing Tiger and Mike.
Its amazing that he got the opportunity to see them in Canada. We heard about that on Wednesday. We really wanted to see this match-up.
Jeff and Quinn are like most fans in a country that boasts one of the highest per capita golf participation rates in the world. Any chance to see the worlds top players is always appreciated, while a standout performance by Weir is icing on the cake.
We love Mike, but we love to see all the good golfers too. It inspires (Quinn) a lot to see what the tournament players are like, said Jeff, who started to show his partisan nature. Weve got a long way to come back. Weve got to rally everyone.
So off they went into a sea of people, many carrying Canadian flags, some wearing caddie uniforms so they resembled Weirs caddie, Brennan Little.
This was a moment that many Canadians had hoped for three years ago when the Canadian Open celebrated its 100th anniversary. It also marked 50 years since a Canadian had won the national open, so what better time for a home boy to snap that jinx?
Weir looked like he was the man to do it, but faltered in the end and allowed Vijay Singh to steal his thunder in 2004. It was an event that seemed to start a downward spiral in Weirs career that led to swing changes and switching coaches.
On Sunday, even though it was an exhibition with the Internationals all but out of the Presidents Cup already, Weir versus Woods was a dream match-up in the eyes of Canadians.
It was a typical Canadian day in September, the changing leaves set against a clear blue sky. The sun was out, but there was a crispness to the air, perhaps setting a scene for a Canadian sporting moment such as Weirs win at the 2003 Masters. This time, Canadians would be on hand to witness it themselves.
All week, people had been comparing the Presidents Cup to hockey in order to get Canadian fans revved up. Weirs wife Bricia and other wives of International team players decided to go with it and donned Canadian hockey jerseys.
If I can remember, Liezl Els said ladies should get jerseys, so last night, they rallied and got a bunch of jerseys, said Weir, who took a three up lead by the turn as Woods looked surprisingly shaky with his driver and putter.
Atmosphere-wise, it was pretty loud. It was like a Ryder Cup, said Woods. Especially starting out, it was unbelievable how loud the roars were, pretty deafening actually.
I was three-down early, so they had a lot to cheer about. Weir was playing great and it was unreal how the atmosphere was electric out there. It got quiet on the back nine and then, it got real loud at the end. Overall, it was just a great day.
There was a reason for it getting louder on the back nine as Tiger started stalking Weir, which is never a good sign. The Canadians lead began to dwindle and by 14th hole, the score was all square before Woods went one-up on 15.
The cheers returned on 17 when Weir sunk a birdie put to square it again before Woods put it in the water on 18, oddly enough in front of a Canadian flag. The fellow born under that flag made like Tiger and took advantage of the situation with yet another birdie and a one-up victory.
He had gone where few men had gone before and caught Tiger on a Sunday. It may have been an exhibition, but there was added significance to his win, other than beating the worlds No. 1 player.
It suggested that the future for Weir may hold precious moments for Canadians, just like his past.

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    Toronto Sun Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
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