Weir's comeback starts at Pebble Beach

Mike Weir grimaces after hitting his tee shot on the seventh hole during the second round of the...

Mike Weir grimaces after hitting his tee shot on the seventh hole during the second round of the Canadian Open at Shaughnessy Golf And Country Club in Vancouver, B.C., July, 22, 2011. (RICHARD LAM/QMI Agency)

IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:38 PM ET

TORONTO - True to form, Mike Weir is playing it close to the vest about his return this week at Pebble Beach, knowing that anything he says could be premature until he tests his surgically repaired elbow and unpredictable game in a few tournaments.

The good news for Weir is that Tiger Woods is also making his 2012 PGA Tour debut this week, so his massive presence will divert attention away from mere mortals such as Weir. Still, you have to believe Weir won’t be able to fly totally under the radar.

Someone will notice a struggling former Masters champ who, before his surgery, couldn’t make enough on a medical exemption to maintain his full-time privileges and only made the cut in two of 15 events last season.

It is a make-or-break season for the poster boy of Canadian golf, whose first obstacle will be finding tournaments to play should he struggle early, which is why the European Tour is an attractive alternative.

So is the isolation that Weir would prefer to operate in early in the season.

This could be a beginning for Weir, or it could be the beginning of the end. Whatever it turns out to be, it began with private soul-searching behind the scenes that grew out of career uncertainty.

Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member Dick Zokol said in a recent discussion that Weir has indicated to him that he is willing to commit to the project ahead. That’s step one, but there are no guarantees.

“I remember when I was 43 and I kind of lost my position. It’s not exactly like Mike’s. He’s fallen from a lot higher, but it’s similar,” said Zokol.

“I had to kind of look in the mirror and decide whether I’m going to commit (to getting back on tour) because those are questions you have to answer yourself and you have to answer them honestly,” said Zokol, who did get back to the tour.

“Those moments when you ask those questions to yourself, you’re asking your true self opposed to your ego. Deep down, you’ll know whether it’s time to throw in the towel or time to get on your horse,” said Zokol.

“Those things are the moments of truth to each player. Every player believes in their heart that they can do this. There’s no doubt about it and Mike can. Whether he’s going about it the right way, it’s his decision and those are the hurdles that he, specifically, has to overcome,” he said.

“Does it guarantee that he’ll do it because he wants it badly? No, it doesn’t, but he believes he can do it and he’s setting out a plan to do it,” said Zokol.

Tinkering with your swing may help, but Zokol believes too much emphasis is put on mechanics.

“I’ve said this to Mike,” said Zokol. “When he’s played his best, he’s not thinking about his golf swing.

“Whether it’s Tiger Woods trying to look at his golf swing through Sean Foley, or Mike Weir trying to look at his golf swing through stack and tilt, you forget about playing golf when you’re thinking about the golf swing,” he said.

Uncertainty leads to caution and whatever Weir says right now would be empty nouns and verbs. The true statement will be made inside the ropes, beginning this week.

POWER SHORTAGE

One of the theories used by those who believe it’s over for Weir is that he can’t compete on a tour that runs on the power game. Explain then why 2011 Player of the Year and world No. 1 Luke Donald tied for 147th in average driving distance at 284.1 yards last year? ... Weir was runner-up at Pebble Beach in 2009 and 2005. He missed the cut last year ... Graham DeLaet is the only other Canadian playing at Pebble this week ... Barrie’s Stephanie Sherlock, who just missed full-time playing privileges at LPGA Tour Q-school, has gotten into the inaugural Women’s Australian Open being played this week at Royal Melbourne. Other Canadians playing include Charlottetown’s Lorie Kane and Toronto’s Rebecca Lee-Bentham.

GOLF 2.0 FALLS SHORT

Golf 2.0 was introduced a week-and-a-half ago at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. Forever, navel-gazing, particularly in this era of stagnating/declining participation, the program allegedly has the mission of growing the game, but Golf 2.0’s main theme was that the game needs to be more welcoming to women and children, something that has been known for years. Maybe there’s more to come if this initiative morphs into Golf 3.0, but Golf 2.0 is short on specifics on how it’s going to grow participation. For that reason, it’s still Golf 0.0 at this point ... Jack Nicklaus is the most well-known name behind Golf 2.0, but as much as golf fans revere the Golden Bear, it seems a more familiar face with mass appeal outside the game would be helpful considering it’s newcomers they are trying to attract ... Matt Hoffman of Thornhill was named Canadian rookie of the year on the Canadian Tour, while Danny Sahl of Sherwood Park, Alta., received the Gordon Brydson most improved player award. Calgary’s Dustin Risdon won the Srixon stroke average award. Other award winners include Mexico’s Jose de Jesus Rodriguez as player of the year and Joe Panzeri of Meridian, Id., as international rookie of the year.


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