Weir scraps home tourney

JOHN HERBERT -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

Mike Weir thinks he can do even more for his hometown.

With that, the PGA Tour star and former Masters champion confirmed yesterday the tournament that has carried his name for 10 years -- the Mike Weir-Dino Ciccarelli Charity Classic -- has been scrapped.

Weir is contemplating an event with a much larger slice of "hundreds of thousands" of dollars to help the Mike Weir Foundation, which focuses on improving the lives of children in Lambton County.

However, such an event is unlikely to be held in Sarnia.

After paying $100,000 in celebrity expenses and other costs, last year's tournament at Huron Oaks in Bright's Grove raised $125,000 for the Mike Weir Foundation, despite an appearance by Wayne Gretzky.

Weir, Gretzky, Adam Oates and former NHL star Ciccarelli, who is from Sarnia, participated in a challenge golf match on the second day of the tournament but it was rained out after only a few holes.

"It was half what we were expecting," Weir said from his home in Draper, Utah, after playing in the Ford Championship at Doral in Miami.

"We realize that some people will be disappointed but in the end we want to have a bigger impact than what we were doing. We're hoping to do something bigger and better in the future."

The Weir-Ciccarelli tournament has raised about $500,000 for various Sarnia charities and Weir's foundation, which he started last April at a ceremony in Bright's Grove. It was at the same event a park was renamed after Weir to recognize his contributions.

"We've had the tournament for 10 years and it's a big commitment for a lot of people and maximizing everybody's time," Weir said. "We were not getting what we should in the end. I'm trying to figure out ways how to maximize everybody's time and energy and really raise a lot of money for the foundation.

"I don't mind giving up a couple of days if what we raise is significant."

Weir said some players on tour routinely make $100,000 or more for one-day appearances and turn down many such requests because of time constraints during the PGA Tour schedule.

He said some charity events, such as the Tiger Jam in Las Vegas last fall, raised $1 million in a day. Weir and his wife Bricia participated in that event last year, which also included a concert, golf, dinner gala, car giveaways and auction.

Weir said he and the organizing committee have talked about coming up with their own version of the Tiger Jam.

"It's a great model," said brother Jim Weir, who echoed his brother's feeling about shelving the Weir-Ciccarelli event.

"We're going to miss it. A lot of people are going to miss it. We spend hundreds and hundreds of hours organizing it. We're hoping to have something better in the future."

Jim Weir suggested possibly tying the new model to the popular Sarnia Bayfest festival held each summer.

He conceded it is possible the new event might be held in a larger Canadian city, where more money could be generated for the Sarnia charity.

Mike Weir also announced that his annual tournament at the Taboo resort in Muskoka, sponsored by a Toronto newspaper, has been scrubbed.


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