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Weir Has Earned a Shot at Tiger

MONTREAL -- Just a few short days ago, the suggestion of a singles showdown between Mike Weir and Tiger Woods might have been considered posturing to a partisan Canadian crowd at Royal Montreal that has adored its native son since he produced a Masters victory in 2003.
It didnt matter that Weir has struggled since losing the 2004 Canadian Open to Vijay Singh in a playoff and some of his countrymen openly questioned him being selected as a captains pick by International captain Gary Player for the Presidents Cup.
Weirsy versus Woods is what they wanted and Weirsy versus Woods is exactly what they got and for all the right reasons.
After joining Ernie Els on Saturday afternoon to defeat Charles Howell III and Lucas Glover 4 and 2 in four-ball play, Weir has been the dominant player on an International team that was swamped in foursomes and four-ball play Saturday.
The Internationals face a near-impossible task in coming back from a 14.5 to 7.5 deficit against an American team that has traditionally dominated Presidents Cup singles matches. In each of the last three events, the U.S. has won 7.5 to 4.5 in singles play and holds a 42.5 to 29.5 all-time lead.
Cynics would say that Woods versus Weir is all that this Presidents Cup has left and they may be right, but Weir is 2-1-1 so far, tying him with Vijay Singh for the best record among International players and the match is positioned so it may make a difference if there is any chance of a comeback against the U.S.
Weir and Woods will be the fourth match out of the blocks on Sunday, playing right behind Singh and Phil Mickelson and ahead of Angel Cabrera and Woody Austin.
Ive got my hands full, thats for sure, said Weir. I think its good for the fans. Everybody is fired up about the match. We need some momentum, so hopefully I can play well and get some blue on the board.
Theres three groups in front of us. Hopefully, there will be some blue on the board before I even get started and that will give me some momentum. Ive really fed off the crowd this week and, hopefully, I can do that tomorrow because Ill need it.
Weirs last PGA TOUR win came at the 2004 Nissan Open and during his recent struggles, he has made significant swing changes and switched coaches, but since Thursday, he has resembled the old Weir with sharp irons and dependable putting.
Ernie Els has played alongside Weir in both of his four-ball wins and says Weir is the logical choice. The way hes played all week, hes basically earned his spot to play against the world No. 1.
Ive played with him the last two days and Ive seen the way hes playing. If theres one player on our team that can really give Tiger a go, it will be Mike Weir. Hes going to have all of Canada behind him. I think it will be great for the tournament, great for the fans and for television.
Weve got to find some wins early on and try and turn this thing around. I mean youre up against a very large mountain here, but I think its a great match-up.
Stuart Appleby echoes those comments. I think Mike has earned the right to represent us against the No. 1 player in the world and certainly, in Canada, its a bit of a Cinderella story.
We have not put him there for token value. I guess theres a sentimental point to it and also a functional point. Hes not a weak link and its not lambs to the slaughter. Where is he in the matches? Four? Thats the meaty part of the tee times. We obviously have to find some victories very, very quickly.
Weir has never played against Woods in either the Presidents Cup or the Accenture Match Play Championship, but Els know what its like to go head-on with Tiger in front of his countrymen after the 2003 Presidents Cup in South Africa.
I knew I was up against it. I had a good Presidents Cup in South Africa in front of my home fans, so I was up for it, but I wasnt good enough on the day.
Mikes playing so solid. Hes not hitting a lot of bad shots and thats what youve got to do against (Woods). Youve got to keep playing your game and, hopefully, Mikes putts drop tomorrow and he can shoot something like 6 or 7 under and have a chance against Tiger.
I think it will be great. What Ive seen with the crowd, I really think hes got a bit of an advantage there.

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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.