The most recognizable name in Canadian golf stopped to remember one of the most unique personalities in the game yesterday.
"It was a shock to everybody," said Mike Weir of the death last week of popular caddie Steve Duplantis of Brampton. "I could see everybody around the putting green and the range with their heads down and no one knew what to say."
STRUCK BY TAXI
Duplantis, 35, was in San Diego for the Buick Invitational when he was struck by a taxi while crossing the street. A memorial service will be held today at 1 p.m. at the J.S. Jones and Sons Funeral Home in Georgetown.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Sierra Duplantis Trust Fund which was established to benefit his 11-year-old daughter.
Renowned for his love of the nightlife, Duplantis worked the bags of players such as Jim Furyk, Rich Beem and Tommy Armour III and earned a reputation for being able to bring out the best in players.
"Steve was a great guy," said Weir, who had Duplantis caddie for him at the Air Canada Championship in Vancouver years ago.
"I was always feeding him gloves and the odd club here and there because he was a lefty, as well."
Weir withdrew midway through the first round last week at Torrey Pines due to illness after finishing fourth at the Mercedes-Benz Championship and tying for 56th at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic to start the season. He has decided to play this week's FBR Open at TPC Scottsdale.
"I was champing at the bit to play so I added the FBR to the schedule, I feel like things are going well and I want to play, so I feel ready to go," Weir said. "Everything feels good about my game. I've always played a pretty hefty start of the season when it's on the west coast."
Scottsdale was the site of Weir's first PGA Tour victory in over three years when he won the Frys.com Open in October after beating Tiger Woods in a singles match at the Presidents Cup a month earlier at Royal Montreal.
After much-publicized swing changes over the past year, Weir says he has more confidence in his swing now than when he won the Masters in 2003.
"In 2003, I had a great run for six months. I was playing very well, was hitting the ball great, but it didn't last for as long as I wanted. I felt like I was always trying something different all the time to kind of put it together week to week," Weir said.
"My game back in 2003 was still a little inconsistent and I felt it could get better and I think it is a lot better now. Now, it's just a matter of the rest of my game."
Weir estimates that, with a more efficient swing, he is getting an extra 10 to 15 yards off his driver... "I'm probably half a club longer with all of my irons. It's a pretty significant difference, but it's easier power. I don't have to work as hard to create that power," Weir said, adding that his short game is now his focus.
"That's what really paid dividends, I thought, at the end of last year -- just the extra little bunker save, extra up and down, extra couple of six, seven-footers make all the difference."