Weir hopes laughter best medicine

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

You'd have to scour the world to find two personalities more opposite than Mike Weir and George Lopez.

Weir is a soft-spoken, humble, serious student of golf who grew up in a loving family in small-town Ontario. He appreciates a good joke but, like many of us, couldn't tell one to save his life. He measures his words carefully.

Lopez is a gregarious, fast-talking Latino comedian who turns virtually his every thought into words. Growing up in the vast Latino community of Los Angeles, he never knew his father and, when he was 10, his mother abandoned him. Amazingly, he can find humour anywhere and everywhere.

Thrown together in a foursome at last year's Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Weir and Lopez clicked, becoming fast friends almost instantly. Lopez and golf announcer David Feherty even came to Sarnia to Weir's charity tournament last summer.

"Feherty and I have become the ghetto version of Hope and Crosby," Lopez said. "So, as a result of Mike's event, David and I are planning one the week before Colonial and I think Mike is going to be there."

Yesterday morning Weir was on his way into the clubhouse at swank PGA West when a volunteer security guard barred the way. Lopez, a few steps behind Weir, couldn't believe it.

"I thought my people had trouble," said Lopez, star of the cleverly-named Latino TV sitcom George Lopez.

"You know (Weir) won here two years ago but he can't even get into the clubhouse. 'Excuse me sir. I need to see your badge.'

"Hey, man look up on the wall at the pictures."

Weir just laughed.

"I knew (Lopez) would bust me for it," he said. "Hey, it's just a volunteer doing his job."

"This is one of the sweetest guys," countered Lopez. "And he's married to a Latina. She asked me to keep an eye on him, so that's really bonded our friendship."

The Bob Hope Classic is one of the last of a dying breed. Years ago there was half a dozen pro/celebrity tournaments on the PGA Tour. Now there is just this one and the ATT Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. A lot of the pros shun them because the celebrities can be a distraction to serious golf.

Every pro plays four rounds with amateurs, though not all are considered celebrities. Sunday's final round is professionals only, low 70 and ties from the first four rounds.

Unlike many of his colleagues (Phil Mickelson, for example, has asked out of the celebrity rotation) Weir gets a kick out of playing with actors and famous athletes.

"Last year was the first time I was in the celebrity rotation," said Weir, "and I had a ball. George was cracking one joke after another. Another day, I played with Roger Clemens and got all the inside scoop on the Yankees. This week I'm also playing with Drew Brees so I'll get some football stories.

"We're used to playing in front of big crowds but, at this event, if you're not in the celebrity rotation, the players are spread all over four courses and it can seem you're all alone out there. In some regards, it doesn't feel like a tournament. But when you play among the celebrities, there's a buzz just like a normal Tour event."

Lopez has another theory.

"(For Mike) to watch all the white dudes hit it is boring. This is better. He hits and then we take a long bus ride down to our tees and we hit and on every hole he's reminded of how great he is."

One celebrity in the field Weir won't get to play with is Mario Lemieux, and Weir was a bit disappointed at that.

"You watch," Lopez said. "I bet I get thrown under the bus for Lemieux."

Not likely. In today's opening round of the 90-hole event, Weir is hooked up with Lopez, Samuel L. Jackson and Cheech Marin, of long-ago 'Cheech and Chong' fame. Somebody suggested to Weir that he take care whenever Cheech tells him that "it's your turn to take a hit."

"I've got a good nose," said Weir. "One whiff and I'll be on the other side of the fairway. No performance enhancing drugs for me."


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