Black Knight cheers Weir's induction

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

Mike Weir officially will become a member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame later this month in Bright's Grove, Ont., and although some say Weir is too young for induction, his captain from the 2007 President Cup was pleased to hear that news.

"I'm so happy to hear that. Mike Weir is a true, true gentleman. They actually don't come any better," said Gary Player, recalling Weir's win against Tiger Woods in Sunday singles at Royal Montreal.

"I'll always remember the Presidents Cup here," said Player, who was in Vancouver last week when he accepted a lifetime achievement award from the National Golf Course Owners Association.

"I said to Mike: 'Would you mind playing Tiger Woods? Nobody expects you to beat him, so you've got nothing to lose, you're playing in front of your home people, they'd love to see it and I believe you can beat him, I really, sincerely do Mike,' " Player said.

"He was a true, true trooper. He said: 'Anything you want me to do, I'll do.'

"He has been a great team member," said Player, 74, who has visited Canada since the 1950s.

"Canada has had some wonderful golfers," he said. "You're going back to Stan Leonard or going back to Mr. (George) Lyon, who did so well in the (1904) Olympics," Player said.

"(Weir) is the first Canadian to win a major championship and, above all, the Masters, so I am a big, big fan."

A Chinese tsunami

Some believe Player should expand his nickname from world's most travelled athlete to world's most travelled person.

His recent itinerary illustrates why as his current excursion from South Africa includes stops in Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, China, Los Angeles, Mexico, Vancouver, Morocco, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and back home to South Africa.

Much has been said about the global reach of golf since being included in the 2016 Olympics and Player says that news has fuelled the popularity of the game.

"That was on everybody's lips, particularly in China," said the Black Knight, who was willing to make a bold prediction about the near future.

"I've been known as a kook with my predictions throughout my career. I said everybody would be doing weight training in sports. They all said I was mad," he said of what is common practice now.

"Now, I'm going to make another prediction and say that by the time the 2016 Olympic Games come along, I think there will be three Chinese players -- or even five -- in the top 100 in the world. They've already got one, a man named (Wen-Chong) Liang, who I've watched swing for a long time," he said.

"Particularly in China, the Olympics mean so much to them and little towns where they really didn't know about golf will now start to have golf courses," the Black Knight said. "They're coming at us like a tsunami, not only economically, but in the sports field."

Social responsibility

Player is hoping we're going into an era when golf courses pay more attention to the environment in a way that also makes the game more enjoyable for more people.

"There are people who are against golf courses and, to a certain degree, sometimes they're right because we use too much water and too much fertilizer," he said.

"Now, we're going into a new era where we're going to use less fertilizer and we're going to have great respect for the environment and that's something the young people have got to do," he added.

"We've got to now make sure we go in and redesign golf courses, make them shorter, make the greens less undulating, so the members can enjoy it and do something to encourage the family to take an active role in the golf club," Player said.

hutchgolf@netzero.com


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