Stats and numbers very often fail to recognize the intangible qualities that make somebody such as Mike Weir the Canadian icon that he is today with proceedings underway at the 2010 RBC Canadian Open.
Three years ago, I made the same mistake as Beezer, the crusty curmudgeon of the sports department, where they dusted him off and sent him out to St. George’s Golf and Country Club on Wednesday. Beez thought he had a pearl when he revealed something yesterday that Weir has been discussing for months.
The “diminishing results and deteriorating statistics” that he wrote about are all part of a struggle this season, which Weir readily admits, but as Beez is known to do, he took it a hop, skip and jump beyond that by predicting that Weir is fading, apparently because he’s now 40 and feeling the effects of tendinitis.
There was no hint of the end of Weir’s storied career by Canadian standards when I suggested that he had not earned his way on to the International team for the 2007 Presidents Cup, even though captain Gary Player had made Weir a pick to play at Royal Montreal.
In theory, I was correct because the numbers clearly stated that Weir was struggling then just as he is now, but he had played a role in getting one of golf’s premier events to Canada and Player had recognized the importance of his presence to the home town crowd, so the naming of Weir had some politics to it.
Then, Weir showed that numbers can be deceiving as he became arguably the best player on either team in Montreal and capped off that performance with a great Canadian sporting moment, his memorable Sunday singles victory over the pre-scandal Tiger Woods.
If that wasn’t enough to indicate that Weir hadn’t faded at that point, he won his first event in over three years that fall at the Fry’s Electronics Open. Suddenly, his career was back on track and there really is no reason why deja vu can’t occur despite the predictions of Armageddon for his career by Beezer.
Here we sit in the same situation three years later and Beez is being sucked into the same traps I did back then by taking too much stock in the numbers, especially 40, as if that age is a magic bullet that strikes down PGA Tour players.
Tell that to Vijay Singh, who has won 22 times since turning 40, Jack Nicklaus who won the 1986 Masters at the age of 46, Tom Watson who nearly stole the British Open last year at 59, or Fred Couples, who was sixth at this year’s Masters at the age of 50.
It’s not as if Weir is denying his advancing years, but as time goes on, he is more dedicated to fitness and continues to try new things as he works on his game, which Beez sees as a desperation move. From here, that looks like doing what you have got to do to stay competitive.
Weir may not be a contender each week, but it isn’t outlandish to suggest he could go beyond the eight wins that ties him for the all-time lead among Canadians that he shares with the late George Knudson. Whether he’s able to play in the 2016 Olympics, one of his stated goals, let’s talk about that in four years.
As long as Weir is motivated, he has the credentials to be out there and, unlike team sports, he isn’t affecting anybody else but himself when he isn’t playing well.
So, I come not to bury Beez and definitely not to praise him because the fact is I have made the same mistake of going by the numbers only to have Weir rebound in spectacular fashion, which he is still capable of doing past his 40th birthday.
Motivation and desire are intangibles that will decide his fate over the black-and-white statistics that Beez used and everything that Weir has discussed this week indicates that he still has a full tank.