Weir gets special FBR welcome

IAN HUTCHINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:35 AM ET

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- To call the FBR Open a unique tournament on the PGA Tour would be a futile attempt at political correctness to anyone who has witnessed the zaniness of an event that mixes equal parts of Las Vegas, Mardi Gras, Happy Gilmore and spring break.

Normally, it's college fight songs that greet players on the infamous 16th hole at the TPC Scottsdale, but for Mike Weir, the fans recognized his national roots instead with an off-key version of O Canada on Saturday.

Earlier, Fred Funk pushed his hands skyward in a "raise the roof" motion to the fans as he crossed the desert between the tee and green on this rowdy par 3, sending the decibel level to peak heights.

Weir, however, wasn't biting.

"That's not my style, but it's pretty cool getting on that hole. I birdied it (on Friday). It's fun when you do something good on that hole," a smiling Weir said about a hole where the fans howl with delight when you hit the green, but respond with a chorus of boos when you miss.

The FBR Open is as much about beer and boobs as it is about birdies and bogeys, but Weir was having nothing to do with this funhouse in the Sonoran Desert, taking only a quick breather after his round before heading to the practice green to work on his putting.

This Arizona event is the first of four consecutive tournaments Weir will play throughout February.

"I usually play quite a bit at the beginning of the year," said Weir, who shot an impressive 67 in the final round and tied for 32nd at eight-under yesterday.

"It would be nice getting on a nice little flow of tournaments and this is the first one. The more you play, hopefully, you get in a nice, little rhythm."

The West-Coast swing continues this week at Pebble Beach for Weir, followed by the Nissan Open and Accenture Match Play Championship at its new location at The Gallery in Tucson.

The Nissan Open marks a dubious anniversary for Weir, who won it twice, but his 2004 victory marks his most recent PGA Tour win. If anything can end a three-year drought for Weir, it's a trip to Riviera, one of his favourite layouts.

"It's a great shotmaker's course," he said. "Depending on the weather, it can be very difficult, but if you get good weather, it's scoreable. It's a great golf course and I wish we had a chance to play more of those.

"You've got to have all aspects going there. It's not just ball-striking -- you've got to putt well there too. Usually, the guys who get it straight and control their irons can play well there. There has been a lot of that kind of winner there."

Ranked 49th in the world last week, Weir is stalled one short of George Knudson's record of eight wins by a Canadian on tour after a 2006 season that saw him record six top-10 finishes including a couple at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open while tying for 11th at the Masters to finish 33rd on the money list.

Those numbers were an improvement over 2005 when he had two top-10s and finished 56th on the money list. Now, four years after reaching the pinnacle of his career with his Masters win, Weir is in danger of not making the International team that will play the Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal later this year.

Late last year, he parted ways with longtime coach Mike Wilson and has been reconstructing his swing over the winter. "Got five hours?" he said jokingly when asked about the changes.

"What's the best way to describe it? It's an overhaul -- that's basically it. I'm just trying to make myself better. That's the bottom line. I haven't been happy with it the past couple of years and I'm just trying to get better and be a more consistent ball-striker.

"It's getting there. It's only the second week," said Weir, who opened the season with a tie for 48th at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic a couple of weeks ago.

If and when those changes do kick in, it might not only be Americans singing O Canada from the gallery. Weir also has been known to have the same effect on Canadians in the past.


Photos