Masters Takes On a Canadian Tinge

By George WhiteMarch 11, 2004, 5:00 pm
Darkness had already started to spread across the 10th green when Mike Weir won the 2003 Masters. He was in a playoff with Len Mattiace, and Mattiace was having a terrible time getting the ball on the green.
 
By the time Mattiace had cuffed it around for double bogey, Weir was the winner. The boy from a small Canadian town in Ontario had grown up to become a Masters champion, and Canada would never again be quite the same.
 
Sure enough, Jean Chretien, then the Prime Minister of Canada, was one of the first to call and offer his congratulations.
 
He was with the President of the Dominican Republic, recounted Weir, and he said they were watching and he was jumping up and down, and his wife was jumping up and down, and they were very excited. He said he was very proud of me.
 
Now its a year later, and Weir returns to Augusta as the defending champion. And, Weir says, this year is much different.
 
I think I'm more recognizable than maybe what I was before, said Weir, who was born in Sarnia, Ontario. I've said before, I think even the casual golf fan tunes into the Masters. Whether it's the beauty of the place and music and everything else that they enjoy, people enjoy watching The Masters. So me winning last year, I think I'm recognized maybe more by the casual fan than the die-hard fan who did know me before. That's the big difference.
 
Weir lives now in Draper, Utah. Yes, hes Drapers most famous citizen. Hes one of golfs most famous, too. And being famous gives way to high expectations, he has learned.
 
Yeah, I think any time you win a major, expectations rise probably, said Weir. It probably gave hope to a lot of medium-range hitters that it wasn't going to be all long-ballers out there last year. It proves that you can find other ways to get it done in this game.
 
I've always had high expectations of myself, but I think there is probably a little bit more expectations.
 
Weir already has won on the PGA Tour this year, repeating as the champion of the Nissan Open. Its the seventh time he has won on the tour, and Weir has the uncanny knack of getting them in the big tournaments. Hes won a World Golf Championship event, the American Express, at Valderrama. Hes won the Tour Championship. And in addition to the Masters and Nissan, he originally won as a native son, taking the Air Canada Championship.
 
Along the way, the slightly built left-hander has endeared himself to fans of all nationalities. Both personally and professionally, hes the guy that most of the fans genuinely appreciate.
 
I think maybe the average amateur can relate to my game a little more, because I play with a lot of amateurs that hit further than I do, he confesses. Not many guys can hit it as far as Tiger and Vijay and Phil and Davis, and that's a different game that they play than even I play and amateurs play. So maybe they can relate to my game a little more.
 
Repeatedly last year, Weir dug deep inside during the final round at Augusta to find an inner will, something to combat the feelings of nerves, some way to get over the myriad hurdles that were laid out before him. Hes 33 now, and he doesnt think he would have succeeded five years ago.
 
Experience in this game is a huge factor, Weir said, and I've been through a lot of situations in the game my seven years on the tour - and other years that I was on some smaller tours - and you use all those experiences to pull yourself through tough situations.
 
And now hes learned what he has to have to play the majors.
 
The game has so many ebbs and flows, he said, and you just try to peak for the majors. You try to get your game so it does peak at that right time, because you know you can't stay there the whole time. It's too demanding physically and mentally to stay there for that long of a time.
 
I want to do a lot of similar things that I did last year. I'll probably stay at the same place. My preparation will hopefully be a little better. The weather conditions played a big factor in that last year. We weren't able to get on the golf course very much before the tournament.
 
Weir is an excellent putter, and his work with the short stick was one of the major factors in his winning last year. But just as important was his ability to concoct a good game plan and stick to it. That is what he will have to do if he is to be successful this time.
 
I always felt like I have a good strategy for the golf course, and that's important, said Weir. Iron play, distance control with your irons, and putting it on the smart side of the hole is at least for me the most important thing, and that's what I base my plan around playing the golf course. Whether I'm able to do that, hopefully I'm striking my irons well enough to be able to control them. But that's how I go about that place, trying to attack it.
 
Weir goes back to Augusta this year as the champion. He has a green jacket now, he will take advantage of the champions locker room. As defending champion, he will attend the champions dinner, even hosting this one since he is only one year removed from the ceremonies in Butler Cabin.
 
What will be on the menu? Weir is looking forward to having something typically Canadian ' maybe something as Canadian as coffee and doughnuts.

Yeah, he said with a laugh. Thats Canadian, for sure!
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - The Masters Tournament
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  • Arnold Palmers 50th Masters
  • American Junior Golf Association

    Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

    While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

    There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

    According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

    Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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    McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

    By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

    They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

    McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

    Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

    On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

    Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

    10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

    12/1: Tony Finau

    14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

    20/1: Francesco Molinari

    25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

    30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

    40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

    50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

    60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

    80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

    100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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    Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

    By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

    Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

    It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

    Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

    A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

    “I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

    “I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

    Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

    At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

    Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

    “I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.



    “Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

    Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

    “Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

    After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

    “I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

    Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

    “It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

    “Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

    On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

    Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

    “She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

    Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

    At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

    At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

    Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

    “I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

    Her overall assessment of her day?

    “It was a great experience,” she said.

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    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

    NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

    Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

    Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

    1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.