Weir to Raise Canadian Hopes Once More


2005 Bell Canadian OpenAs the season begins to wind down and with a lull in between the WGC-NEC and the Presidents Cup, the PGA Tour heads north into Canada for this week's Bell Canadian Open in Vancouver.
But make no mistake, this isn't just some ho-hum tournament on the 2005 schedule - at least, for one man it's not.
And that man is Canada's own Mike Weir.
Without a champion of their own for over 50 years now, Canada's hopes rest squarely on the diminutive shoulders of Weir. Having played in 14 previous Canadian Opens, the 2003 Masters champion has never had a good showing in his native country's national open.
That is, until last year.
Holding a three-shot lead heading to the back-nine and possibly tasting victory, Weir stumbled down the stretch with three bogeys to fall into a playoff with Vijay Singh. Singh ultimately won the tournament on the third extra hole leaving Weir with mixed feelings.
'For whatever reason I could never get comfortable on the greens, but outside of that, it was a tremendous week, something I'll never forget,' said Weir. 'You know, I'm disappointed not only for myself, but obviously for everybody who was out there supporting me. It was really special.'
Weir, whose maiden PGA Tour victory came, ironically, at the 1999 Air Canada Open, might not have Singh to deal with this year due to back problems that caused him to pull out of the Deutsche Bank Championship last week.
For the fifth straight year, the Bell Canadian Open will be played at a different venue. This year, the event comes to Shaughnessy Golf Club in Vancouver, marking the first time since 1966 that the club has hosted the tournament.
Though only 18 of the 95 Canadian Opens have been decided by playoffs, three have come in the past three years.
The purse for the event is $4,200,000 with $756,000 going to the winner.
Five for the title:
Mike Weir
Despite blowing an opportunity to win last year, the good news for Weir is that he has improved upon his previous year's finish for five straight years. With his second place a year ago, that gives the lefthander only one place to go - to the winner's circle.
Chris DiMarco
Mr. Runner-Up is coming off a - you guessed it - runner-up finish to Tiger at the WGC-NEC Invitational. Hasn't won since 2002 but in the process has racked up five second place efforts. Currently ranks seventh on the money list and with Presidents Cup just around the corner, the former Florida Gator is sure to have the juices flowing.
Vaughn Taylor
After struggling mightily during the first part of the season - at one point missing six straight cuts - Taylor reversed things in a big way with his victory at the Reno-Tahoe Open. No small feat considering the pressure of trying to repeat as champion. Riding wave of confidence, finished third at last week's Deutsche Bank.
Vijay Singh
Only time he isn't a threat is when he isn't playing. Pulled out last week due to back spasms, but this PGA Tour iron man is likely to be back in the fold this week. Just so happens to be the defending champion and will try desperately to reel Tiger back into sight in regards to the world rankings. Has six top-10s in his last seven starts including his win at the Buick Open.
Fred Couples
Recently named to the Presidents Cup team as a caption's selection, the ever-popular Couples hopes to be in fine form for captain Nicklaus by the time he reaches Virginia. Has resurrected his career somewhat following his emotional win at the Shell Houston Open in 2003. Had a great showing at this year's Open Champion with a tie for third.
Playing Out the Front Nine
Four more to keep and eye on
Craig Stadler
After winning the 2003 B.C. Open at age 50, the man known as the Walrus has used the two-year exemption that came with the win to play semi-regularly on the PGA Tour. This will be his sixth start of the season, with his best finish coming at the Sony Open in January where he tied for ninth. More importantly, however, it will be the fifth time he has been able to tee it up with his son Kevin this year.
Kevin Stadler
At one point early last season, the young Stadler was a man with clubs but no place to play. He then caught fire after using a sponsors exemption on the Nationwide Tour to win in his first start of the season, with which he ultimately parlayed into earning his PGA Tour card for this season. Has only two top-10s on the season and sits well outside the top-125 on the money list. With father in tow, may get the inspiration he needs to make a final push to retain his card for 2006.
Jason Gore
The man the American golfing public fell in love with at the U.S. Open, Gore recently earned the PGA Tour's Battlefield Promotion by winning three Nationwide Tour events in one season - a feat he accomplished in three consecutive starts this summer. This will be his third PGA Tour start this season, following a missed cut at the Buick Championship and then a tie for 60th at the Deutsche Bank.
Peter Tomasulo
A relative unknown graduate from the Canadian Tour, Tomasulo is coming off a huge victory in this past week's Nationwide Tour event in Alberta. Though not a Canadian himself, Tomasulo also recently won the Canadian Tours Montreal Open and is apparently feeling quite at home above the northern border. Talk about moving up the ranks - all the while in Canada!
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - Bell Canadian Open