Mike Weir joked with his fellow pros last week at the British Open that he considered that tournament a good warmup event for this week's all-important championship, the Canadian Open.
The British Open, of course, is one of the four majors on the PGA Tour while the Canadian event has lost a bit of its lustre over the years as an important stop on the circuit.
But for Weir and fellow Canuck Stephen Ames, the Canadian Open will never lose its shine, nor will they ever get tired of having to answer questions about the Canadian drought.
No Canadian has won this event, which begins today at the revamped north course at Angus Glen in Markham, since Pat Fletcher in 1954 at the Point Grey Club, and Weir is reminded of that fact every time he returns home to compete in the Open.
Still, he welcomes the chance to make history at home and will never get tired of being asked about it.
"No way. Not at all," Weir said following yesterday's pro-am. "This is our national championship. I love being here, I want to try to win and I don't mind talking about it one bit. I look forward to this week all year."
Unfortunately for Royal Canadian Golf Association officials, many of the top players on the PGA Tour do not feel the same way and this year's event includes only two of the world's top 10 players -- No. 3 and defending champion Jim Furyk, and No. 7 Vijay Singh. Much of that has to do with scheduling, the fact that the event is sandwiched between the British Open and the World Golf Championships, with the PGA Championship the week after that.
Weir came within one shot of winning the Open in 2004 when he lost in a playoff to Singh at Glen Abbey. Today, he will begin the tournament teeing off with Singh.
Furyk attended a round- table discussion following his pro-am round yesterday to discus ways of returning the Canadian Open to its past glory. The 12-time PGA winner said, in his opinion, the quality of the course is the primary selling point to players, suggesting that the RCGA should move the Open around, but only to Canada's best courses, such as Hamilton, where he won last year, Shaughnessy (Vancouver) and the Royal Montreal.
"Players want to go to good golf courses," Furyk said. "Most of the time, majors are played at wonderful, great old golf courses.
"This event, 20 or 30 years ago, probably had a feeling about it that it was a fifth major. And maybe it doesn't have that feeling right now, but it doesn't mean that it can't. But it seems to me the RCGA is on a track right now to maybe garner some of that respect now."