Past is history to Weir

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

Ever since that gut-wrenching afternoon last September at Glen Abbey, the day that Mike Weir was supposed to become the first native-born winner of the Canadian Open in some 90 years, seldom does a week go by when he's not reminded of it.

Over the next 10 days or so, the gory details will be examined anew under the microscope of the preamble to the 2005 Canadian Open.

Try as we might, though, it's impossible to get the slightest expression of pain from the uncomfortable subject. There don't seem to be any exposed nerve-endings to tweak.

"I don't really think about it at all," Weir said yesterday, in Toronto for the launch of a business arrangement between himself and caddie Brennan Little with Dynamic Funds, a division of investment firm Goodman and Company.

Weir prefers to take only good memories away from his Sunday round at the Abbey, in which he surrendered a three-stroke lead, losing to Vijay Singh in a playoff.

During the moments after Singh had won on the third playoff hole, Weir already had analyzed the ugly event in an honest way. In the dying moments, he had three putts for the win: A 10-footer for birdie at the 72nd hole, a 25-footer for eagle on the first playoff hole and a five-footer for bird on the second playoff hole. He missed them all. It was the story of his weekend.

"I felt like if I had putted halfway decent, it wouldn't have even been a golf tournament," he said. "When I look back on this tournament, when I have time to reflect on it, that's what will stick with me.

"I don't let things linger with me very long. It's a game. I mean, I love it, I love the game. But it's a game. It's not life or death."

So, now it's almost a year later and Weir is looking forward to another chance, this one at Shaughnessy in Vancouver. He'll be arriving on Sunday night, fresh from a few days with his coach Mike Wilson.

"It'll be interesting to get out there and see how (the course) has changed from the way it was three months ago when I played there," Weir said.

"I think it's just going to be a challenge, maybe U.S. Open style or PGA. Single digit under par is going to win the thing. Depending on wind and other things, it could be closer to even par."

When the RCGA named Shaughnessy to be host of the 2005 Open, it did so with the understanding that the Deutsche Bank Championship would be played this week in Seattle. Since then, the Deutsche Bank event renewed its agreement with a course near Boston, leaving the RCGA hung out to dry, with few players interested in crossing the continent for one isolated event.

"That's the big struggle this year, no question," Weir said. "That put a damper on things. They figured guys would be out there and it would be an easy trip up. Now it's tougher.

"When guys asked me about (Shaughnessy), my line was that this was going to be one of the top three courses they'll play all year if they go out there. And I believe that. I think it's going to be a great championship out there."

No matter how depleted the field might be, it will be a monster event if Weir again is in contention. Last year, Weir's galleries at Glen Abbey were as raucous as any on tour as they tried to will him to the championship.

"The whole atmosphere with the hockey being in town -- the World Cup -- everybody was so fired up and I was in contention in the tournament, that's why it hit such a peak," he said.

"This year, I've heard some fans say they were going to plant a loonie somewhere on the course, like they did under the ice at Salt Lake."

Weir's game has not been at all consistent this season but his work on the greens has perked up during the past few weeks since he went to a mallet-headed putter. His main focus heading into Vancouver is to get his short game in tune.

"The little pitches, the bunker shots, the 100-yard shots, I haven't been dialling them in like I need to."

Seems about a year ago, Weir was saying many of the same things but he managed to cobble together a game that came just one painful stroke shy.

"Smoke and mirrors," he would say in the aftermath, thinking about his balky putter.

Players have won with less.


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