|Mike Weir grimaces after hitting his tee shot on the seventh hole and subsequently retired from the Canadian Open on Friday. (RICHARD LAM/QMI Agency)
VANCOUVER - The way he has struggled of late, many expected Mike Weir would have a short stay at the RBC Canadian Open.
Nobody knew he'd be leaving this early.
Weir withdrew from the tournament Friday after completing only six holes in the second round at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club, blaming a sore right elbow that was aggravated by several shots from the punishing rough during his opening lap.
Weir missed several months with an elbow injury last year and told reporters it would be foolish to play through the pain again.
"I couldn't open a bottle of water (Friday) morning after hitting those shots out of the rough," Weir said. "My elbow's really acting up. I woke up and it was very sore. I thought I could play through it. I had a couple of shots in the rough (Friday) morning, and I just don't want to go down that road again where it becomes a bad injury again.
"It's very tender, very sore right now. With this deep rough, I just can't hit it."
Weir, who is tweaking his swing after reuniting with stack-and-tilt coaches Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer, was wild off the tee Thursday. He missed a dozen of 14 fairways in the opening round, although he showed off his short-game skills and managed a four-over 74.
The 41-year-old lefty missed only one fairway Friday before making the decision to withdraw. He had one bogey and two doubles along with a birdie and two pars on his six holes.
Weir has been a fan favourite on home soil since even before his triumph at the 2003 Masters made him Canada's first male major champion, and he admitted it was tough to walk off during the only PGA Tour stop in his country.
"It's very disappointing. This is our national championship," Weir said. "I want to play and have great fan support, but I'm just not going to reinjure it again. I tried to play through it a little bit last year and ended up being off for three or four months because I did that. I'm not going to do something stupid like that again."
This is the latest setback in what has been an awful campaign for Weir.
He arrived at Shaughnessy with just $23,312 US in season earnings, having survived only two cuts in 14 starts before the Canadian Open.
He has switched caddies and coaches, lost his status as a full-time member of the PGA Tour and failed to qualify for the past two majors after competing in 48 consecutive biggies.
During his pre-tournament press conference, he insisted he'd have "a glimmer of hope" this week if he was accurate off the tee. Friday morning, after his failure to hit fairways caused his elbow to flare up, Weir again told reporters it's too soon to assume he can't contend on the world's top tour.
Weir is planning to have an MRI and isn't certain when he'll return to the links.
"I know I'm 41, but I still feel young," he said. "I feel like I can play a long time. I just don't want to do anything to jeopardize that."