Weir soldiers on

Mike Weir is interviewed while attending the PGA of Alberta Fall Buying Show to promote his 2008...

Mike Weir is interviewed while attending the PGA of Alberta Fall Buying Show to promote his 2008 Collection in Edmonton on Tuesday. (Sun Media/Darryl Dyck)

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

No matter what happens until he stops swinging a golf club, there'll be two things no one can take away from Mike Weir.

He'll always be a Masters champion and he'll always have his match-play victory over Tiger Woods.

The rest is still a work in progress.

'TRANSITION YEAR'

"It was a transition year for me this year," Weir said. "I started with a new swing coach in November. There have been a little bit of growing pains, I felt like I was working on my game pretty much the whole year. I wasn't playing as freely as I could have been if I wasn't working on it.

"But you have to do it when you're changing things in your swing and changing your mechanics, it takes a little time. Especially at my level, it takes even more time."

Weir was in Edmonton yesterday unveiling his new clothing line at the PGA of Alberta Fall Buying Show. He is currently ranked 84th on the PGA money list with $1,086,053 in earnings this season.

This weekend he'll take part in the Fry's Electronics Open in Scottsdale, Arizona. Last week Weir finished in a 10th-place tie at Las Vegas Open.

"I feel at the end of the year I've been playing a lot better," he said. "Since early July I've been playing - except for a little setback at the PGA Championship when I was injured - pretty well."

The highlight of the season came in Montreal when Weir defeated Woods at the Presidents Cup in singles play.

It was the fourth time Weir represented the Internationals in the competition, although he has yet to be on a winning side.

"The whole week was pretty special, winning a couple of other matches as well," he said. "I just played great all week. I had been thinking about that tournament for a couple of years now and to have it there and play that well, it was definitely a highlight of the year.

"To have it in Montreal makes it 10 times more special - to do it there with that much support. I think the support of the fans probably spurred me on to even better play. Just the inspiration on each and every hole was an incredible feeling. It's something I'll remember forever."

That moment was something Weir has been working towards since winning the Masters championship four years ago. Following his win at Augusta, expectations rose for the Brights Grove, Ont., native, who was suddenly considered a contender in every tournament.

"I didn't know what to expect before I won, but it's definitely changed," Weir said. "Everyone's expectations have been much higher.

"I still want to do really well, I still feel like I can be an elite player. I think people thought I was going to win all the time and that's just not golf - with the exception of a couple of players. It's been a little bit difficult to handle."

The motivation to get back to that Masters form made him change coaches and adopt a new swing.

It was a gutsy decision for the former Lou Marsh Trophy winner as Canadian athlete of the year.

"I got to that point where I was frustrated enough and I was beating my head against the wall and felt I wasn't getting any better with ball-striking," he said. "I was also getting injured a lot, I was having a lot of back problems and that wasn't a good recipe going forward and I needed to change."

WORK

Not blessed with natural ability, Weir had to work for all his achievements. After turning pro in 1992, he didn't earn his tour card until 1998 and didn't win his first PGA tournament until the following season, claiming the Air Canada championship in Surrey, B.C.

He went on to win six more tournaments.

"I'm really looking to the start of next season," Weir said. "I felt like I started the year just working on things. I really wasn't worried when it was going to come, I knew I needed to work through that process of changing.

"Next year I'll be expected to play well right off the start."


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