A Homegrown Moment - COPIED

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MONTREAL -- In so many words, the common opinion on Mike Weir is that hes a nice, classy guy who gives everyone a warm fuzzy when he succeeds on the PGA Tour.
Well, appearances can be deceiving.
Before the nasty e-mails start, thats not to insinuate that Weir is not genuine. Hes every bit the smiling, polite guy you see interviewed after setting so many Canadian benchmarks such as his 2003 Masters win.
Weirs class and obvious talent are his trademarks, but hidden in the shadows is a very important and underrated factor that has contributed to his success, which continued on Sunday with his one-shot victory at the Frys Electronics Open in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Weir is one of the toughest dawgs in the yard, a trait usually attributed to Tiger Woods, who is known to glare down anyone approaching one of his bones. Like Weir, Woods has reconstructed his swing over the years and even tripped up from time to time, but never over an extended period.
Weir has more mud on him than the big dawg, which is what makes his three-plus years without a win a testament to his mental toughness. Its been speculated that giving up the lead at the 2004 Canadian Open and losing to Vijay Singh was the beginning of his struggles, a theory Weir quickly dismisses.
That has nothing to do with my struggles, he said. I lost that tournament, but that has zero to do with my struggles. My struggles had to do with my back injuries.
When youre not 100 per cent, youre trying to play and you cant practice as much and you get off the mechanics of your golf swing. You start making compensations and you can get into a funk.
Hey, Ive lost plenty of tournaments before. Ive lost more than Ive won. That goes away quickly.
What doesnt go away are the injuries that were becoming more prevalent as the 2005 season wore on. It was frustrating the way I was hitting the ball and frustrating when every time I tried to go work on it, I wasnt seeing results, then it kind of set me back a couple of days.
My neck would be really sore. I couldnt stay on top of it.
If this dawg was to stay in the yard for a long time, there would have to be some serious changes to his swing and that meant conversion to the now popular stack-and-tilt theory.
Basically, its swinging in a circle, not any movement off the ball, no lateral shift at all, just staying centred over the ball, which most of the great players in the history of the game have done, said Weir.
Its just easier to practice. Its easier on your joints. Its easier on your spine, he added. Its a combination of longevity in the game, which I wanted, injury prevention and better ball-striking and more power.
The swing changes seemed to be kicking in as this season progressed, but not enough to make Weir anything but a controversial captains pick by Gary Player for the Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal. Despite his detractors, Weir stole the show, particularly in his thrilling singles victory against Woods.
I think this Presidents Cup could change his whole career, said Player afterwards.
Its showing signs of doing just that. Two weeks ago, the momentum from Montreal continued as Weir posted a tie for 10th in Las Vegas before his win in Scottsdale on Sunday.
Weir has made a habit of coming back from adversity. In 1999, he crashed and burned from contention at the PGA Championship only to pick up his first tour win a few weeks later at the Air Canada Championship in Vancouver.
In 2002, he couldnt manage a top-10 finish all year, but came back with three wins the following year, including a low-profile event played at Augusta National. This time around, the struggles went on longer, but Weir feels a new chapter has begun, comparing his win in Scottsdale to the Air Canada Championship.
Since it has been awhile, it felt similar to my first win and, with the changes I made, it is, in a way, a first win for this method Im working on.
I think (Weirs win) will be huge, especially if he is going through a few swing changes, added Bellevilles Jon Mills, who will join Weir in tour next season.
It will give him that added confidence that he definitely made the right decision and I think in the long run its going to pay off big time. I think its going to make him a much more consistent player. It puts him in the right mindset for next year.
 
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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.