Switch-hitter steals show

KATHY RUMLESKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

It's hard to steal the spotlight from 2003 Masters golf champion Mike Weir, especially when he's in Southwestern Ontario. But little Michael Fehr did just that.

Wearing a brace that covered his neck, chest and back, and carrying a hockey stick to hit the golf ball, the the 2 1/2 -year-old went up to the tee and hit from the left side. Then he hit from the right -- something Weir, the seven-time PGA Tour winner and Bright's Grove native, would be hard-pressed to do.

The 75 on hand yesterday at the Sunningdale Golf and Country Club to watch the private clinic by Weir for seven children -- part of the first Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for Kids -- erupted in cheers for Michael.

Seemingly oblivious to Weir and the crowd, Michael hit the ball several more times. Weir finally gave him a ball to keep and then a plane flew overhead, diverting his attention.

For the rest of the morning, Michael, who has a tumour in his spinal cord and has been receiving chemotherapy, happily played with stick and ball.

"He's really enjoying it. It's a big deal," Michael's father John Fehr said.

A relaxed Weir, whose wife Bricia and daughters Elle, 9, and Lili, 7, were with him, said he hopes this event will be the first of many to help kids. "It's nice to do the first one close to home."

The Mike Weir Foundation and the Children's Miracle Network worked together on the event, which included a tournament and auctions. It will be held in a different city each year.

This year's proceeds go to the Children's Health Foundation to help build the new children's hospital in London.

Also stealing the show, though he would have preferred not to, was Weir's friend and golf pro Steve Bennett, handling emcee duties.

Bennett asked Weir a question about a reverse pivot. As Bennett demonstrated what he meant, he twisted his knee and fell to the ground.

Bennett was helped to a chair and appeared to be in a lot of pain. With his face in his hands, Bennett slumped over in his chair and lost consciousness momentarily.

"Get a doctor; call 911," somebody yelled.

A few minutes later Bennett appeared OK as he sat down in a golf cart, out of the sun, drinking water.

"That's why you don't reverse pivot," Bennett said, jokingly.

Weir continued with his tips and had each child -- all patients at one time with the Children's Hospital of Western Ontario-- tee off.

Weir told Jonathan Hodge, 10, he had a nice swing.

Hodge beat leukemia.

"I've been out of treatment for three years," he said. "I'm good."

Getting advice about his golf game from Weir was "pretty cool," he added.

Close to 300 golfers participated in the tournament, which the public was not allowed to watch. Weir was unaware of that until he was asked his opinion. "I think the club decided . . . to keep the attention on why we're all here. It's not about me; it's what we're doing for the kids here."

Dave Moore of Clintar and Dennis Hinschberger of RBC Dominion Securities each paid $11,000 to play nine holes with Weir.

"It's humbling to be able to do it. I've followed (Weir) since the Canadian Tour," Moore said. "To see what he's doing with his foundation . . . it's a great thing."

Weir said someone once paid $250,000 to play with him, Adam Scott and Nick Price.


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