Presidents Cup

Mike Weir confirms no LIV Golf players for Internationals as he plots Presidents Cup strategy

March 05, 2024
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Tracy Wilcox

ORLANDO — Mike Weir has a few things in store for the American team when it shows up in September at Royal Montreal Golf Club for the 15th edition of the Presidents Cup. Things that he hopes makes the Americans feel as "uncomfortable" as they always seem to be when they venture abroad for the Ryder Cup.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make it feel like a real away game for them, and that’s something that I don’t think they’ve ever seen,” the native Canadian, who is serving as captain of the International team in his home country, told Golf Digest Tuesday after finishing up a video teleconference from Bay Hill Club. “It’s going to be different; I will say that.”

Think black. A lot of it. All over the place. Weir, at Bay Hill Club to meet with prospective team members at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, smiled when asked about the prevalence of the team color and its shield logo that will be on display at Royal Montreal. “Well,” he finally said, “that’s the idea.”

Different would be better for the biennial competition that the Americans have dominated since its inception in 1994. The U.S. team enjoys a 12-1-1 advantage in the series, with its only blemishes a defeat in Melbourne, Australia, in 1998 and a tie in South Africa in 2003. There have been a few close calls, and those also have come on the road—in 2015 in South Korea and a comeback victory in 2019, also at Royal Melbourne.

In 2007 at Royal Montreal, Weir, a wild-card selection by captain Gary Player, defeated Tiger Woods in singles, but that was one of the few International bright spots as the Americans, led by Jack Nicklaus, rolled to a 19 ½-14 ½ win.

Weir remembers well an atmosphere that was a bit too congenial for his taste. He wants a hockey crowd, not a golf crowd.

“We've put a lot of thought into it, and we continue amongst our team to talk about that that home course, home country advantage and we're trying to engage a lot of the fans around the country,” said the former Masters champion. “We're leaning on the Montreal Canadiens organization, Jeff Molson, and tapping into their fan base, but we want the whole country to be involved and engaged.

“I think in 2007 when it was there, I mean Tiger was playing. I think fans were excited to see him, and I felt like the fans were fantastic, but they, you know, were very cordial to the U.S. side. We want them to be a little bit louder and a little bit more raucous than in the past.”

Weir cited the road Ryder Cup fortunes of the American team not so much a blueprint for what he wants to see but as validation that the International team hasn’t made the U.S. players “uncomfortable” when they leave the States. “When the U.S. goes overseas to play [in the Ryder Cup], it's a totally different atmosphere than when they're playing at home. And traditionally, in the Presidents Cup, there hasn't been that much of a contrast, and that is our challenge to make it more so.”

Weir, who turns 54 in May, had plans to host a dinner for prospective team members at a local steakhouse later Tuesday and expected upwards of 16-17 players to attend. Of course, that includes only players who remain members of the PGA Tour. This will be the second Presidents Cup in which a handful of players who might be helpful to the cause are ineligible as LIV Golf League competitors.

The U.S. also will be missing its fair share, which certainly hampered its Ryder Cup bid in Rome, where Europe delivered a five-point defeat to the Americans. But in the Presidents Cup, the U.S. has a much deeper pool of talent than the International contingent. Weir could really use Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, who is playing splendidly the last three months, and 2022 British Open winner Cam Smith of Australia. Veterans like South African Louis Oosthuizen could bolster his roster, too.

Not an option.

“They are not going to be eligible,” said Weir, who did have conversations with the tour on the subject. “I guess the flip side is they knew that when they left … that they weren't gonna be part of that. I think some of that's one of the reasons some guys struggled with going because they loved it so much and they want to be part of it.

“Certainly I want the best players internationally to be playing in this. Hopefully we come to a point that they are. It's just unfortunate situation that we're in right now. Maybe in Chicago in 2026 [at Medinah], they are. … It’s a shame, but I like our team. Our team looks great right now.”