Weir right back at it

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- It was a gut-wrenching roller-coaster ride and, in the end, it became one of Mike Weir's most painful experiences on a golf course.

We're talking, of course, about the 2004 Bell Canadian Open when Weir essentially gave away the title to a grateful Vijay Singh during the closing holes.

A year later, Weir would like nothing more than to do it all again. He would be counting on a different finish, but he is even willing to risk that just for the opportunity.

"If it was Vijay and I, it would be great," said Weir, who leads a 16-man Canadian contingent into today's opening round at the Shaughnessy Golf Club.

"I'm just going to put my nose in there and grind it out as hard as I can this week and see whoever is going to be there."

No Canadian has won the Open since transplanted Brit Pat Fletcher did it in 1954. No native-born Canadian has won it since Karl Keffer in 1914. Weir's effort last year came achingly close but fell short despite a wave of emotional support from the galleries at Glen Abbey.

"I think (the galleries) made him more nervous than anything," Singh said. "I think it got to him toward the end and instead of being in his favour, it kind of turned against him psychologically because it was too much pressure for him."

Singh won the Open last year as part of a rare three wins in three weeks. He had won the Deutsche Bank Championship in a stretch duel with Tiger Woods the week before and won the 84 Lumber Classic the week after. When the season ended, he had amassed more purse money -- nearly $11 million US -- than any other player in history, including Woods.

This year hasn't been as lucrative, but he is still hanging in close to Tiger.

"The only part of my game that's not as strong this year is probably my putting," Singh said. "I threw away a lot of golf tournaments this year.

"The scoring part of it is not as sharp as last year. Maybe I've played too much golf, I don't know. Some say I may have played too much. But if I had gone ahead and won those tournaments it would have been fine."

Singh is the biggest name in the 156-man field, but there are many others capable of taming Shaughnessy's manicured lawns this week.

"It's going to go to a guy who hits it straight and hits a lot of greens in regulation," Weir said. "That's the key here. You have to avoid the rough."

Canadian Stephen Ames has had a couple of days to survey the layout and he believes that par could be a very competitive score.

"Let's put it this way: I'll take level par right now," he said. "By the end of the week, I think it will be pretty good. It's definitely going to be single digits under par."

GILLESPIE IN FOR BARR

Dave Barr of Kelowna, B.C., was forced to withdraw with a hip flexor, and will be replaced by Derek Gillespie of Oshawa.


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