OAKVILLE, Ont. -- The RBC Canadian Open is not the only game in town this week. David Beckham and the MLS All-Star Game were in Toronto Thursday night, while the Rogers Cup tennis tournament is being played simultaneously (alas, now without Roger Federer, who bowed out in the second round Wednesday night).
So how does golf cut through the sporting clutter? Mike Weir. An Ontario native, Weir is a favorite son in these parts, so when he opened the tournament Thursday with a six-under par 65 at Glen Abbey GC that gave him a share of the lead, local newscasts and newspapers had their top story.
Sports fans here are eager to see a Canadian win their national championship. None have since Pat Fletcher won it in 1954, nearly 16 years before Weir was born. Weir, though currently ranked below fellow Canadian Stephen Ames (Ames is 25th in the world, Weir 35th), perennially is seen as the country's best hope and accordingly is given a hero's (or at least a Tiger's) welcome in the event.
"When I get on a roll like today you can sense the energy," Weir said of the hometown support. "That's what Tiger gets a lot. Someone was asking me, 'How does he make these putts on the last hole?' He believes he can make it. The crowd believes he can make it. It's all the right stuff going in the right direction. It's nice to have that one time, one week.
"I use the example of the 17th hole at the Presidents Cup [in Montreal last year]. I heard Johnny Miller's comment, 'Mike, you don't even have to hit this putt. It's just going to be willed in.' And there is something to that when you have that much pull from the crowd. Sometimes you just feel like you can't miss them."
Of course, were it that easy, Weir by now would have won a Canadian Open, which from his standpoint is akin to a fifth major.
"It's hard," he said. "It's difficult to get your game together to win an event. Things all have to come together. Unless you're Tiger winning all the time, it's hard to do. It's a little bit like [catching] lightning in a bottle."
-- John Strege