Ian Leggatt will be the only Canadian at this invitational event by virtue of his victory at the Tucson Open on the day when Weir was in Salt Lake City cheering on the Canadian Hockey Team to Gold.
Leggatt finished the year in 47th place on the PGA Money Leaders list, well ahead of Weir who finished in 78th place with $844,154 in official earnings. Weir had no victories during the year, while Leggatt had the one.
Nevertheless, Weir still holds down 47th place on the World Golf Rankings, well ahead of Leggatts 140th place.
But Weir has been sinking more rankings than birdies in the past year. He started the year in 12th place and sank steadily down all year.
Weir will have to return to his winning 2001 form quickly to climb back up the ladder as the deck is stacked against those lower on the world rankings - they dont get the invitations to the limited events and so cant earn the extra dollars to move up.
In fact, Weir owes much of last years money total to invitational events, some of which he will not be eligible for this coming year. Weir won more than 40% of his total earnings at invitational or limited access events last year.
In 2002, Weirs stroke average increased for the first time since his breakout season of 1999 when he won the Air Canada Championship in Vancouver. He averaged 70.06 strokes per round in 2001 and went up almost three-quarters of a stroke a round in 2002 to 70.79. With a win and two seconds, 2001 was clearly his banner year. Last year, he didnt even have a top ten finish.
Even through 2002 was an off year, Weir can still bounce back. But the way the Tour is set up, he really has to do it this year or it becomes more and more difficult. Or he can get lucky with a win.
Lets hope Mike Weir can return to the competitive form that established him as Canadas best golfer. Based on a cangolf.com on-line survey at the end of last year, our readers voted decisively for Ian Leggatt as Canadas top pro in 2002. Have we already seen a passing of the torch?