VANCOUVER - For years, Mike Weir has answered annual questions about the pressure he feels to finally end Canada’s winning drought at his own national open championship.
After Wednesday’s pro-am at the latest staging of the RBC Canadian Open at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club, one of the reporters asked Weir what it’s like to arrive without the high expectations.
Yeah … it’s been that bad for the beloved lefty from Bright’s Grove, Ont.
“I’m just trying to work my way back into form and gain some momentum and start to string some solid shots together,” Weir said. “Hopefully, that leads to some good rounds and some good tournaments and build it back up that way. That’s what I know to do — just keep grinding, keep working hard.
“My mindset is still to keep working hard and try to find answers to the problems I’m having.”
The latest solution — or attempt at one — is a reunion with swing coaches Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer, the stack-and-tilt specialists that Weir worked with a couple of years ago and has now returned to as he seeks to end the worst slump of his professional career.
The 41-year-old arrived at the RBC Canadian Open with just US$23,312 in season earnings, as the result of a dozen missed cuts in 14 starts so far. Weir lost his status as a full-time member of the PGA Tour and has slipped to No. 475 in the world rankings.
The so-called experts aren’t counting on Weir to snap out of his slump this week at Shaughnessy, where the rough mowers have obviously been parked for several weeks in preparation for the latest edition of the Canadian Open.
Fellow Canucks Stephen Ames, David Hearn and Matt McQuillan have all had better results on the PGA Tour this season, while up-and-comers like Adam Hadwin and Matt Hill seem to be knocking on the door.
As Wednesday’s pro-am proved, though, Weir is still the undisputed fan favourite on home soil. And for the record, he’s not ruling out an improbable victory, either.
The 2003 Masters champion has had some success at his own national championship, including an oh-so-close runner-up finish in 2004 at Glen Abbey and a share of fifth in 2008 at the same Toronto-area track.
He’s also had stellar showings on Canada’s West Coast, winning the Canadian Tour’s 1997 BC TEL Pacific Open in Richmond and celebrating his first PGA Tour victory at the 1999 Air Canada Championship in Surrey.
“Even as poorly as I’ve played, I think I have a glimmer of hope if I can find the fairway a few more times than I have been,” Weir said.
“I haven’t had great success on the course (recently), but at the same time, I get here and prepare that if I can get some momentum and have great crowd support behind me, hopefully, that will turn into something good.”