February 12, 2012
Dose of reality for Weir, Kane
By IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency
TORONTO - As illustrated by the gushing Mats Sundin tribute in Toronto, Canadians were in a nostalgic mood on the weekend and the sentiment wasn’t exclusive to hockey.
Then, reality ruined the show as it has done most times with the Leafs for the past 45 years, with that 5-0 shellacking by the Habs.
There have, however, been flashes of brilliance from Canadians on the golf course, not the least of which is the 2003 Masters and eight career PGA Tour wins by Mike Weir, who also got a taste of reality last week.
The reality is that Weir, who turns 42 this year, had scores of 70-73-78 to miss the cut at Pebble Beach.
While some media outlets have downplayed Weir’s debut at Pebble Beach, saying it was too early to indicate how he would fare after elbow surgery, that’s only partially true.
Disappointing results work against Weir as far as tournaments he gets into down the road.
Being snubbed by the Northern Trust Open was disappointing for the two-time former champion of that event, but it’s an example of the “what have you done for me lately?” attitude he’ll face.
Those who don’t look though Canadian eyes will see that Pebble Beach was Weir’s 12th missed cut in his last 16 events and changing that fact is of utmost importance. At least a decent start is critical for Weir.
A decent start appeared imminent for Charlottetown’s Lorie Kane, 47, at the Women’s Australian Open at Royal Melbourne — at least until the final round.
Just a couple of days past the 11th anniversary of her fourth and last LPGA Tour win, and the last victory by a Canadian, Kane was tied for fifth, just two shots off the lead.
As Weir was on the men’s side, Kane was the standard-bearer for Canadians on the women’s side until 2008. Since then, the reality is that her best finish has been an 11th two years ago.
That still stands as Kane recorded eight bogeys against one birdie and shot an 80 in the final round to tie for 22nd Down Under.
As Weir and Kane both reach for what was so easy to find a decade ago, it doesn’t take anything away from their chances of success to recognize the changing of the guard.
When both broke in, Kane and Weir were hardly recognizable to most Canadians as they are today, but now we’re looking at Olympic golf four years down the road in Rio.
Just as there might be highs mixed in with the lows of Weir’s and Kane’s missions, the same will hold true with Canadians just getting started.
For example, in the shadow of Weir’s performance at Pebble Beach, which began with a 70, was Graham DeLaet’s first-round 66 that put him in contention until a 77 the next day.
DeLaet and David Hearn, based on their previous full seasons and some bright moments this year, are seemingly coming on and let’s not forget Adam Hadwin, if he can get over the disappointment of Q-school.
Things are a little sketchier on the women’s side, where rookies Rebecca Lee-Bentham and Maude Aimee LeBlanc join Kane and veteran Alena Sharp this year. Stephanie Sherlock plays with part-time status.
The point is that the familiar names at this point aren’t offering any guarantees, the same way players just breaking in are sure to be inconsistent at times.
Should the latter group and those coming up behind them iron out their highs and lows, Canadians may be talking about them the way we talk about Weir and Kane at an opportune time four years down the road in Rio.
Cheering those who went before them is fine, but fixating is short-sighted.
SOME CANUCKS ARE IN
Hearn and DeLaet will be at Riviera ... Weir’s next tournament is reportedly the Mayakoba Classic ... Fred Couples tees off for the 30th time at Riviera to tie Gene Littler for most starts at that event. Couples won in 1990 and ’92 ... Victoria’s Jim Rutledge and Rod Spittle of Niagara Falls are playing this week’s Champions Tour event in Naples, Fla. Last year, Spittle tied for sixth at the ACE Group Classic ... Kane’s last victory was recorded Feb. 10, 2001, in Hawaii, where she won the LPGA Takefuji Classic ... Diane Dunlop-Hébert of Montreal was named Golf Canada president on the weekend.
Growing backlash against the use of belly putter isn’t limited to Tiger Woods. USGA executive director Mike Davis hinted that something could be written into the rules about anchoring, the practice used with belly/long putters. Tiger may have influence, but the USGA/R&A set and institute the rules ... Those who deny the right to exist for any golfer not named Tiger held their collective breath Friday when their hero winced after hitting out of a fairway divot on the eighth hole of the Monterey Peninsula Country Club. The world has not come to an end as Woods reported it was just a temporary stinger in his wrist ... Architect Geoffrey Cornish, originally from Winnipeg, died on Friday at the age of 97. A member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, Cornish worked with the legendary Stanley Thompson and had a hand in 240 designs across North America and Europe.