Weir homecoming brings out stars

JOHN HERBERT -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

Mike Weir and Dino Ciccarelli couldn\'t ask for more than having a Masters champion and an NHL 681-goal scorer as the anchor celebrities in their annual golf tournament. Not only are they the home-town stars of the tournament but it\'s also their own tournament.

Masters champion Mike Weir makes his long awaited return to his home town tonight for tomorrow\'s ninth annual Mike Weir-Dino Ciccarelli Charity Golf Classic at the Huron Oaks Golf Club in Bright\'s Grove. Weir, who has won three times and won more than $4 million US on the PGA Tour this season, and Ciccarelli, who scored 681 goals and 1,200 points in 19 NHL seasons, have combined to raise $375,000 over the years for Sunshine Dreams For Kids and other Sarnia charities.

They hope to raise about $90,000 this year. Admission is free, but organizers are requesting spectators make a donation.

Tournament organizers are hoping for 5,000 spectators. One of the committee members, Phil Winch, of Tourism Sarnia Lambton, said the city is buzzing in anticipation of Weir coming home for the first time since his winning at Augusta National Golf Club in April. He\'s also bringing his green jacket.

Winch said 68 media outlets have indicated they will attend. About 45 celebrities are attending.

\"It\'s a great lineup,\" Winch said yesterday. \"We\'ve got a couple of astronauts, Canadian rock legends, Olympic medal winners and eight current or former Detroit Red Wings.

\"Everybody is talking about the tournament. There\'s a huge amount of anticipation. There\'s more excitement here than anything I\'ve seen in Sarnia for a long time. It\'s going to be a great day.\"

The tournament\'s top two stars -- Weir and Ciccarelli -- tee off just after noon tomorrow. Dino is at 12:10 followed by Weir at 12:20.

Mark Chaney, who is Jeff Sluman\'s regular caddy on the PGA Tour, will be looping for Weir. His regular caddy, Brennan Little, was married Saturday in Dallas and is on his honeymoon. Weir was at the wedding before travelling to Calgary. Kathy Parker\'s fivesome includes Weir, Robert Lawless, Steve Bradie and Fred Tomczyk.

But before that, Weir and some other PGA Tour stars are putting on a golfing clinic starting at 11 a.m. At 11:30, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley will make it official -- the city is renaming Huron View Park after Weir to recognize his Masters victory this past April. The tournament begins at 7 a.m.

Weir is scheduled to arrive tonight by private jet at the Chris Hadfield Airport in Sarnia at about 8 p.m.

He will be greeted by his brother, Jim Weir, and escorted immediately to a private function for celebrities, guests and players in the tournament.

The Masters champion plays today in the Wayne Gretzky and Friends golf tournament in Calgary before flying to Sarnia. And no, the Great One will not be on Weir\'s jet.

But plenty of big names will be in the tournament.

Former or current Red Wings including Paul Coffey, Kris Draper, Paul Ysebaert, Tony McKegney, Shawn Burr and Adam Oates are playing along with the Roadrunner, former Montreal great Yvon Cournoyer. Astronauts Drew Feutstel and Chris Hadfield are entered. The Hanson brothers from the movie Slapshot are coming. Musical guests trying to golf include Tom Cochrane, The Tragically Hip, April Wine\'s Myles Goodwin and Emm Gryner. Former U.S. amateur golf champion Gary Cowan is playing.

Olympic athletes including rower Marnie McBean, cyclist Curt Harnett, skier Brian Stemmle and skater Jennifer Robinson are playing.

Dean Wilson, the PGA Tour player who golfed with Annika Sorenstam at the Colonial tournament, is coming. Wilson attended school with Weir at Brigham Young University. Other PGA players coming include Craig Barlow, who finished fourth at the Greater Hartford Open yesterday, and Steve Alker, winner of the Bayer Championship at Huron Oaks in 2000.

\"This is going to be the best tournament yet because of Mike\'s Masters win and because he\'s coming home,\'\' his brother said. \"The community is extremely excited from all reports we\'re hearing.\"

TOURNAMENT FACTS

Mike\'s tee time: 12:20 p.m.

Dino\'s tee time: 12:10 p.m.

Location: The club is located at 2587 Lakeshore Road, Sarnia. If you are driving from London, the trip takes about 50 minutes (if you are not caught in traffic near the course). Take Highway 402 west to Lambton Road 26 (Mandaumin Road). Turn right at the end of the off-ramp. Travel about four kilometres to the stop sign at Lakeshore Road. Turn left and follow Lakeshore for about four kilometres to the club.

Admission: Free. Organizers expect patrons to make a donation to the Sunshine Dreams For Kids.

Parking: Free. At the Huron View Park, about two kilometres west of the golf club. A free shuttle service will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Food and beverage: Full food and beverage services and portable washrooms will be available on the course. The clubhouse will be closed to the general public.

Autographs: Weir will sign during his round while waiting on tee blocks, between shots on fairways and near greens, when he is not putting.

Charity partners: The tournament has raised $370,000 over eight years for various charities. Sunshine Dreams for Kids, an organization that fulfills dreams for children with life-threatening illnesses and severe physical disabilities, is the major charity. The tournament also supports other youth sports and charities, including the provincial games for the physically disabled in Sarnia in 2003. The tournament committee is a volunteer organization and all proceeds are donated to charity.

WEIR QUICK FACTS

Personal: Born May 12, 1970, in Sarnia. Married to Bricia. They have daughters Elle, Marisa and Lily. His parents, Rich and Rosalie, still live in Bright\'s Grove, just minutes from the Huron Oaks club. Rich Weir is still a member.

Home: Draper, Utah

Turned pro:1992

PGA Tour wins: 1999 Air Canada Championship, 2000 WGC American Express Championship, 2001 Tour Championship, 2003 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Nissan Open and the Masters.

Career earnings: $12 million US

First game of golf: Mike hit his first shots with his father at the Holiday Inn par-three course near the Bluewater Bridge in Point Edward.

First tournament win: Weir was 13. He holed a 50-foot putt on the 18th green to shoot 69 at the Seaforth junior tournament.


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