Canadian News

Mike Weir ‘feels good’ after world tour

by CP

After spending the last year playing golf in such places as Italy, Morocco, Fiji, Australia and South Africa, Canadian Mike Weir returns to the PGA Tour this week for the first time since last year’s RBC Canadian Open.

Weir, a Brights Grove native, is a past champion at the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, Calif. He’s in the field on a sponsor exemption alongside six other Canadians including Adam Hadwin, who finished second in 2017.

Weir, the 2003 Masters champion, has been relying on special invitations to earn starts on the European Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia since he has limited status on the PGA Tour. His tie for 15th at the Australian PGA Championship in November was his best result since a tie for 21st at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur in 2014.

Since then, Weir has missed 25 cuts and withdrawn five times on the PGA Tour. Despite setbacks and injuries, the 47-year-old shows no signs of giving up.

“My game feels good,” Weir said. “Since Australia, I had a month off.

“Last week was OK — I shook off a little rust. I was a little bit inconsistent, but a lot of good things. Overall I feel good. There’s a lot of power back in my swing again.”

Weir said he’s not doing anything differently to get stronger but is working on his flexibility. As he gets older Weir said keeping his back strong is key. Beyond that, he’s working mostly on core strength and stability.

Weir admitted he’s battling a knee injury after “landing funny” while walking a course in South Africa last week. He’ll get an MRI on his right knee at the end of this week but his doctor said he wouldn’t do any further damage if he plays.

“It’s definitely uncomfortable,” he said. “Bit of a bummer but hopefully it’s nothing serious.”

Weir captured the ’03 CareerBuilder Challenge as part of a three-win season — including the Masters — en route to being named the Lou Marsh Award winner as Canada’s athlete of the year. He’s the last golfer to win the honour.

Although Weir doesn’t tee it up as often these days, he remains a beacon for golf in the country according to Golf Canada CEO Laurence Applebaum.

“(Weir) continues to be such an example for Canadians from coast to coast with his work ethic and his commitment and his warrior mentality out on the golf course,” Applebaum said. “He’s in phenomenal shape and has a great balance in life going.

“I know that next chapter, which includes a really strong push on the PGA Tour, is what he’s trying to write and Golf Canada is behind him through and through.”

Weir is hopeful to play the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February but hasn’t heard from tournament organizers yet.
Weir said he’d be interested in playing on the Web.com Tour — a PGA Tour feeder — and is hopeful for some exemptions this spring leading into the Masters.

Weir hasn’t earned official money on the PGA Tour since 2014. But he remains focused on earning a PGA Tour card via the Web.com Tour by finishing in the top-25 on the money list — something Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., did last year.

The Web.com Tour has a special category for longtime PGA Tour members who are 48-to-49. Weir will take advantage of some of those spots after he turns 48 on May 12.

“When I turn 48 in May I’ll have pretty much unlimited access to the Web.com Tour but I’d like to play some events before May comes along,” he said. “Not only for prep for Augusta (National), but if I end up focusing on the Web.com Tour come May, I don’t want to be too far behind when that date comes along to try to secure a spot in the top-25.”

Weir said he’s committed to regaining some status on the PGA Tour one more time before he begins playing on the PGA Tour Champions, the circuit for golfers aged 50 and over.

“I love the game, I love to compete, I love to see what I can do,” he said. “I love to experiment and try to get better and overcome obstacles.

“That’s what golf is about.”

Weir’s Aussie tour reveals life left in the old dog

by Paul Prendergast

In the stifling midday heat on Queensland’s Gold Coast, the smile said it all. There have been reasons too varied to mention that could excuse Mike Weir from regularly flashing his pearly whites on the golf course these past few years.

On this occasion though, he couldn’t help himself.

Tapping in for a par after an exquisite flop shot on the 18th green saw the 2003 Masters champion sign for a five-under 67 to complete his week at the Australian PGA Championship at eight-under, tied for 15th in an event co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour of Australasia and European Tour.

With 99 percent of the galleries on the final day following current Masters Champion Sergio Garcia, local favourite Marc Leishman and the leading groups, Weir completed the event in relative anonymity alongside talented young New South Welshman Travis Smyth, who was playing just his third professional event, and Queensland veteran Ryan Haller.

Smyth missed a short putt on the last that meant Weir finished ahead of the trio on the scoreboard, not that this was the catalyst for the split watermelon grin on the Canadian’s face. It was clear he was just revelling in the position he was back in, with the competitive juices flowing, and on a Sunday no less. Golf on Sundays have been a rare event for Weir in recent times.

“I didn’t want to make a bogey today. That was my goal,” Weir said after the round. “I had a lot of chances early and didn’t capitalise but I made a nice little run on the back side.

“I made birdie at the 14th, 15th and 16th so that was a nice little stretch there because the rest of the day was kind of ‘burning the edge, burning the edge, burning the edge’. It was nice to get that last one up and down to salvage the round.”

Looking back in time beyond all the injuries, poor form and off course issues to 2011 does not make for pleasant reading. He’s missed 71 cuts in 119 official events and made only six cuts in the past three years, leaving him plenty of gardening time back home in Utah. Fellow major champion Ian Baker-Finch, who Weir shared a social round with last week at the famed NSW Golf Club in Sydney, could sympathise after his own well documented travails.

“Before I came over here, I played an event at Pebble Beach for Taylor Made so this is three weeks in a row for me. This is what I’ve needed, to get some events in a row, to keep playing and get my game in form in competition.” – Mike Weir

Slowly however, the tide appears to be turning and the PGA Tour of Australasia has played its part in his mini-revival.

Weir came down to the Fiji International in August to provide his ‘name’ to the event alongside fellow Masters Champions Vijay Singh and Angel Cabrera. A tie for 35th might have been viewed indifferently in his heyday but it was a result that held far more significance given his dim recent past.

And what a heyday Weir has enjoyed in a lengthy and prolific career, highlighted of course by his Masters title, where he became just the second left-hander to win a major championship and the first Canadian.

Celebrating 25 years as a professional this year, the 47-year old has more to his resume than most of those watching him walk up the final hole on the Gold Coast would imagine. His eight PGA Tour titles include The Masters, a World Golf Championship and the Tour Championship; then there are the six World Cup appearances for Canada and five for the Internationals in the Presidents Cup.

Along with Geoff Ogilvy, Ernie Els and Tony Johnstone, Weir was one of Nick Price’s Captains Assistants at the recent staging of the Presidents Cup in New Jersey.

Returning to playing action at the Emirates Australian Open in November, Weir struggled in the high winds on the opening day (77) to play himself out of the reckoning early in the piece. A two-under 69 in the second round was another glimmer of light and despite missing the cut, he headed north to the PGA Championship on the Gold Coast in high spirits.

“The wind was very tough on Thursday afternoon. I didn’t play the best either but it was a tough day, then the next day was better,” he said.
The high finish at the PGA will most likely earn Weir his first Official World Ranking Points since the 2014 CIMB Classic in Malaysia where he finished T21. He left the Gold Coast earlier today with his new ranking sitting at No.1925.

Still, while most of the younger fans wouldn’t automatically recognise the man let alone acknowledge his incredible playing record, his presence was not lost on the players these past two weeks. Weir answered hundreds of questions, signed plenty of autographs and posed for many a selfie with his playing partners during his time in Australia.

Following their round at Royal Pines, Haller brought his wife and three boys into the scoring area for a family snap with Weir, proudly pointing out that his youngest son is also a leftie.

With Tiger Woods making a successful return to action in The Bahamas this week, Weir’s PGA performance is unlikely to raise more than a flicker of attention in the eyes of golf fans and media, not that Weir would likely trade places with the man who presented him with the Green Jacket in the Butler Cabin. Tied 15th place in an official event, on a golf course you haven’t seen before, having first navigated a 36-hole cut, brings with it a considerable degree of professional satisfaction in the circumstances.

“My game’s sharp and starting to get sharper. I just haven’t been playing much so it’s good to play,” said Weir of his two-week Aussie tour.
“Before I came over here, I played an event at Pebble Beach for Taylor Made so this is three weeks in a row for me. This is what I’ve needed, to get some events in a row, to keep playing and get my game in form in competition. And I proved it, I kept getting better every day.

“I kinda wish I could keep going right now, for sure. I’m playing in South Africa the second week of January so I’ll go home and enjoy the holidays for a month and get back at it.”

Motivated Weir knows the joy of winning

The numbers are imposing. Over the course of a 25-year professional career, Mike Weir has won eight times and earned $29,943,409 on the PGA Tour. His victories include the 2003 Masters, a World Golf Championship and the Tour Championship. Elsewhere, the 47-year old Canadian has represented the Internationals in five Presidents Cups. In the fourth of those, Weir beat a fellow by the name of Tiger Woods in singles. Clearly, the three-time Canadian athlete of the year is a proper player, a man able to perform under the severest pressure.

All of which is impressive enough. But the life and times of this long-time Utah resident – he graduated in recreation management from Brigham Young University – have been far from straightforward. Either side of his most successful years on tour, Weir has endured much. In the mid-1990s, by way of example, part of his early professional life was spent struggling without much success on the Australasian Tour.

“I was a regular visitor here in Australia between 1992 and 1996,” he says. “During that time I played in most of the tour events. Back then, the top-ten on the Canadian Tour were exempt into Monday qualifying down here. On my first visit I got through the qualifying seven times in a row – then missed all seven cuts the tournament proper.

“So things were tough. Not to over-dramatise, but even food was scarce. I had to budget well. I was missing nearly every cut and sleeping in my friend’s basement. It was all about saving the dollars.”

Weir was learning though. And even today he credits those far-off times in Australia with the development of a game good enough to win at the very highest level.

“Looking back, it was a great experience,” he continues. “The courses are so good and I met some great people. I still have some friends here. But any encouragement I had was minimal. I did have a top-ten in the Open at Royal Sydney in 1994 – but playing here was more of a stepping stone for me.

“The variety of shots is what impresses me most about the golf here. You can play the ball on the ground. You are not forced to fly every shot at the pin. I can recall putting from maybe 100-yards off the green when I played on the Melbourne Sandbelt. That brings out the creative side of the game, which suits me.”

Sadly, Weir’s steady progress came to a painful halt during a round at Hilton Head in South Carolina back in 2010. Having missed a fairway, his drive finished on pine needles. But what he didn’t know was that underneath the ball was an unyielding tree root.

“Things changed for me on that one shot,” he says. “I tore the extensor tendon in my right elbow and still have the scar and two metal screws in there today. My mobility is not the same. I used to have an exaggerated waggle before I started my backing, in which I would ‘cup’ my wrist. I can’t do that any more. So I’ve had to adjust. And that has been difficult. I lost my feel.

“My swing is still a work in progress really. I struggle with a ‘shut’ club face on my backswing. I’ve tried weakening my grip and all kinds of things. But nothing feels the same as it did before I was hurt.”

This year has been more of the same for Weir. Until last week, he hadn’t played competitively since the Fiji International in August. But he is hopeful of putting on a good show for the fans at the Australian Club during the 102nd Australian Open.

“I’m very motivated right now,” he claims. “Some personal issues are behind me. And my kids are going to be gone from the house next year. So I can focus on my game more. I’m feeling a sense of freedom. Plus, I played last week at Pebble Beach and saw some good things. I want to build on that here, even if my expectations are low. I just want to see what happens. But if things start going good I know I’m not afraid to play well when I’m in contention. I’ve done it before. I know how to win.”

‘Humble beginnings’ lead to Hall

by CP Lori Ewing

TORONTO — Simon Whitfield’s love affair with sports began around a pothole on Couper Street in Kingston.The hole in the road near his childhood home became centre ice, and Whitfield and his friends would gather there after school for a game of road hockey.

“All my sporting dreams were born there, all the camaraderie I enjoyed in sport, and this love of sport began at that pothole,” Whitfield said. “I remember it was during the Edmonton Oilers’ heyday, so you were allowed to be anybody but Wayne Gretzky.

“Just your imagination and how it works, and you’re imagining yourself in this position, and then years later you’re one of those athletes. And I think it all begins there. Think of that game you played as kids — ‘How about?’ and ‘Imagine if.’ That brought me right back to that. I don’t think I ever said, ‘Imagine if I was in the Hall of Fame.’”

The Olympic triathlon champion was one of nine individuals inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday, and like his Hall of Fame classmates, the occasion had Whitfield reflecting on his “humble beginnings,” and his journey to become one of the country’s greatest athletes.

“You don’t prepare as an athlete for this,” Whitfield said. “You’re preparing for these [competitions] where you want to express your gift, and then someone calls you and says, ‘You’re in the Hall of Fame. … It’s also a nice end to the chapter. It was a big part of my life, and to be recognized for those sporting accomplishments and then move on to the next thing.”

Whitfield joined Stanley Cup champion Lanny McDonald, Olympians Carol Huynh and Cindy Klassen, golfer Mike Weir, lacrosse standout Gaylord Powless and the Edmonton Grads women’s basketball team. Neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator and Canadian Paralympic founder Dr. Robert W. Jackson were named in the builder’s category. Powless and Jackson were both honoured posthumously.

The 42-year-old Whitfield won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where triathlon made its debut. McDonald remembers that day.

“I’m a huge sports fan and to be able to think back and watch Mike Weir win the Masters, to see Simon running [toward the finish line]. I teased him, he’s got his shirt done up today,” McDonald joked about the iconic image of Whitfield sprinting across the finish line, skinsuit unzipped to his navel.
Whitfield won silver eight years later at the Beijing Olympics.

McDonald, 64, amassed 500 goals and 506 assists in 1,111 career games with Toronto, Colorado and Calgary from 1973 to ’89. He scored the winning goal to lead the Flames to their 1989 Stanley Cup and then retired.

The highlight of Thursday’s news conference came when Kay MacBeth, who at 95 is the only surviving member of the Edmonton Grads, asked McDonald for a kiss.

“How about that?” McDonald grinned through his still-bushy moustache.

His outgoing demeanour and his red moustache made McDonald one of hockey’s most iconic figures, and he hopes he inspired young people and players “to play the game just the way that we did, and bring their best effort each and every day, and bring passion and enthusiam regardless of what you do.”

“You try very hard to be a great example, you try hard to make a difference in other people’s lives, my father [Lorne] was a great teacher and mentor in making sure that if someone needed help, you jump in and help, whether that be through charities or just trying to inspire other people to be good Canadians more than anything.”

The 38-year-old Klassen of Winnipeg is Canada’s most decorated Winter Olympian with six medals (gold, two silver, three bronze). Five came at the 2006 Turin Games (gold, two silver, two bronze).

Weir, 47, became the first Canadian to capture the Masters in 2003. The native of Bright’s Grove, Ont., has registered 15 pro wins and in 2000 became the first Canadian to play in the President’s Cup.

The 36-year-old Huynh, who recently gave birth to her second child and so wasn’t at Thursday’s event, became the first Canadian to win Olympic gold in women’s wrestling in Beijing in 2008. Four years later in London, the native of Hazelton, B.C., claimed bronze.

The Edmonton Grads amassed a stunning 502-20 record from 1915 to 1940. The team also participated in four straight Olympics (1924-36) and was 27-0 but received no medals because women’s basketball wasn’t an official event.

“I’ve got all the memories of the girls I’ve played with, and to think I’m the last one is not fair. It’s not fair,” MacBeth said. “There were some great players I played with, and without them I certainly wouldn’t be here today.”

Powless of Ohsweken, Ont., led the Oshawa Green Gaels to four Minto Cup championships (1964-67) and was twice named the most valuable player. He and his father, Ross, are both members of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Powless died in July 2001 at age 54.

Jackson was a founding member of the Canadian Paralympic movement in 1967, and in ’76 organized the Olympiad for the physically challenged. The Toronto native died in January 2010 at age 78.

Tator, 80, of Toronto is an expert on sports concussions and spinal cord injury. In 1992, he founded ThinkFirstCanada, which helps educate young athletes, in 2002, helped develop the Canadian Brain and Nerve Health Coalition two years later.

Champions Fore CHEO

OTTAWA – September 12, 2017

September 10 and 11 were two very exciting days at the Rideau View Golf Club in Manotick with Canadian golfer Mike Weir in town. The Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for Kids was held at the course in an effort to raise funds for CHEO’s most vulnerable patients. Last night at 8 p.m. the CHEO Foundation was presented with a cheque for $400,000 to purchase a neonatal transport incubator.

The event kicked off on Sunday morning with a junior tournament. Over 80 junior golfers had a great day of golf followed by a meet and greet with 2003 Masters Champion Mike Weir.

On Monday Mike Weir hosted a golf clinic for participants in the adult tournament. It was a relaxed environment as he provided tips on warm ups, training and how he prepares for a big game.

Ron Jackson, President of Rideau View Golf Club was extremely proud of the efforts by volunteers, participants and staff at the club. “We were honoured to host The Mike Weir Golf Drive for Kids. To see how so many people came together for such an important cause is something I will remember forever. We are so grateful to all of the sponsors and to all who made a donation.”

The Mike Weir Foundation has a mission to be golf’s premiere fundraising initiative to support children’s health and to raise $10M for children’s hospitals across Canada. This tournament has helped Mike in his mission.

“The neonatal transport incubator is a vital piece of equipment needed to transfer CHEO’s tiniest patients,” said Kevin Keohane, CHEO Foundation President and CEO. “Each year over 500 babies are transferred to CHEO in one these units. Our equipment is getting old so the need to replace one is critical. On behalf of all the staff at CHEO I want to thank Mike Weir, our sponsors, participants and the Robinson Family for sharing their CHEO story.”

Matt and Dayna Robinson and their children were happy to lend their story to this worthy cause. Matt and Dayna welcomed their twin girls into the world on April 7, 2006 at only 28 weeks gestation. Kristina was born weighing just 2 lb 15 ounces while Kathryn weighed 1 lb 15 ounces. Of the twins, Kathryn needed urgent care at CHEO which included multiple intestinal and eye surgeries. After being diagnosed severely to profoundly deaf, Kathryn underwent two cochlear implant surgeries which now allow her to hear. Today, both girls are active and vivacious eleven year olds.

On Monday morning Mike Weir had the pleasure of touring CHEO and meeting the Robinson family. “As a father, I am thankful my children are healthy,” he said. “Being able to be a part of this tournament every year that gives back to children across Canada is very dear to me.”

This year marks the 11th annual Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for kids. The Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for Kids and the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals works to ensure that all children receive the very best care, benefit from world-class research and the latest in medical technology.

For more information contact:
Katrina Bussey
Manager of Communications
CHEO Foundation
kbussey@cheofoundation.com
(613) 878-5904

Mike Weir is coming to Ottawa to help the kids at CHEO

OTTAWA – April 20, 2017 – Today, members of the Rideau View Golf Club in Manotick hosted a launch event to announce that The Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for Kids will be held at the Rideau View Golf Club on September 10 and 11, 2017. Emceed by CTV sportscaster Terry Marcotte, there was a lot of excitement in the room as Mike Weir joined in via Skype. 

Ron Jackson, President of Rideau View Golf Club was extremely proud to announce details of the event that will include a much anticipated golf clinic with Mike Weir. “The Mike Weir Foundation has a mission to be golf’s premiere fundraising initiative to support children’s health and to raise $10M for children’s hospitals across Canada,” said Mr. Jackson. “Each year the Foundation and Mike Weir in particular, give of their time and energy to ensure that children receive the best care and benefit from world-class research and facilities. Their support of CHEO in 2017 will make a huge difference.”

The partnership between the Club, The Mike Weir Foundation and the CHEO Foundation is something Kevin Keohane, President and CEO of the CHEO Foundation is very excited about. He addressed Mike today saying, “You are going to be helping to create, for so many families in our region, that moment of ‘everything is going to be okay’ and for that we are so grateful.”

Specifically, the Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for Kids will raise critical funds to purchase a neonatal transport incubator for CHEO. The incubator is an infant and pediatric transport system necessary for CHEO’s expert Neonatal Transport Team and paramedics to ensure complete life support when the most fragile patients are in transit. 

Allison Franceschina, Manager of CHEO’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit explained the importance of this vital piece of equipment. “The unit provides a closed, controlled environment that warms an infant by circulating heated air over the skin. The heat is then absorbed by the infant’s body providing consistent warmth for the duration of their trip to CHEO.” The cost of one unit is $400,000 making the fundraising efforts extremely important leading up to this fall event. 

Mike Weir is very passionate about giving back to Canadian pediatric hospitals. “This is the 11th year of a partnership that began when Children’s Miracle Network and The Mike Weir Foundation joined forces,” said Mike Weir. “The Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for Kids and the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals works to ensure that all children receive the very best care, benefit from world-class research and the latest in medical technology. All this, and so much more, happens every day at CHEO and I’m happy to be able to help.” 

With a junior tournament as part of the event in September, junior golfers attended the launch with a range of questions for Mike in a fun one-on-one. Questions covered everything from who inspired him to play (his father), his favourite course to play on (his home club, Huron Oaks) and has he ever cried on the course (admittedly teary when he won the Masters). Most importantly he was asked why he wanted to help kids to which he replied, “I see what families go through, and what the kids go through. There are struggles on different levels: emotional and financial. I’ve had some success and I want to give back.”

Rideau View Golf Club is thrilled to host this event as the Director of Instruction, Matt Robinson, has a CHEO connection. Matt and his wife Dayna’s twin daughters were born on April 7, 2006 at only 28 weeks gestation. Kristina was born weighing just 2 lb 15 ounces while Kathryn weighed 1 lb 15 ounces. These girls had to fight to thrive and both have done so, with flying colours! When Dayna saw the transport incubator displayed at the event she was emotional. “Honestly it’s really difficult for me,” said Dayna. “Kathryn and Kristina were born really early and really small. Kathryn had to be transported in one of these units. It really does hit home for me. We were quite scared for quite a while but looking at them now it really is a miracle and we’re always happy to give back to CHEO.”

In order to achieve the fundraising goal, organizers are reaching out to local companies. Special thanks go to Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Scotia Wealth Management, Urbandale, The Brick and District Realty. Anyone interested in sponsorship opportunities is asked to contact Vaia Dimas of the CHEO Foundation at vdimas@cheofoundation.com.  

For more information contact:
Len Hanes
Director of Communications
CHEO Foundation  lhanes@cheofoundation.com
(613) 737-2784  

Lanny McDonald, Klassen, Weir lead Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame newcomers

by CBC

A mix of amateur and professional athletes headline this year’s class of nine inductees to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, announced Wednesday morning in Toronto.

Leading the way are former NHL forward Lanny McDonald, speed skating icon Cindy Klassen and golfer Mike Weir, the first Canadian man to win a major tournament on the PGA Tour.

Also named were the Edmonton Grads women’s basketball team, while Dr. Robert W. Jackson and Dr. Charles Tator will be inducted in the builders’ category.

Induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame is considered one of the country’s highest sporting honours. Founded in 1955, the new Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame building opened July 1, 2011. The 40,000-square-foot facility, open to visitors, is on the west side of Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.

The class of 2017

Lanny McDonald

Best known for his giant, walrus-style moustache, McDonald also became an iconic figure in the NHL. He capped a 47-goal season in 1978 with the Game 7 overtime winner to help the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the New York Islanders and advance to the semifinals. Ranking 13th all time in franchise history in points, he was traded to Colorado two seasons later and went on to score 500 goals and 1,006 points in a Hall of Fame career that ended in a Stanley Cup title with Calgary in 1989.

Cindy Klassen

A speed skating legend, she became the only Canadian athlete to win five medals in a single Olympics, winning one gold, two silver and two bronze in 2006 in Turin, Italy. Klassen, who later received the Lou Marsh Award as Canadian athlete of the year, first came to world prominence in 2002 when she won Olympic bronze in the 3,000 metres at the Salt Lake City Games. She retired in 2015 at age 35.

Mike Weir

Weir became a national hero in 2003 with his improbable and magical Masters victory, the first-ever win by a Canadian man at a major golf tournament. Weir topped the field two more times that season and again in 2004 and 2007 to give him eight wins overall. While he hasn’t won since, the 46-year-old from Brights Grove, Ont., has pocketed nearly $28 million US in career earnings and was the first Canadian to play in the Presidents Cup.

Simon Whitfield

One of the most successful athletes in triathlon history, Whitfield won a gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and added a silver eight years later in Beijing. In his 16 years racing for Canada, the native of Kingston, Ont., also won gold at the 2009 Commonwealth Games and recorded 14 World Cup victories and eight top-10 finishes at the world championships. A ferocious competitor, Whitfield retired in 2014 at age 38.

Carol Huynh

The Hazelton, B.C., wrestler became the first Canadian woman in her sport to earn an Olympic title in 2008 at Beijing and added a bronze in 2012 in London. Huynh was an 11-time Canadian champion, two-time Pan American champion, Commonwealth champion and four-time medallist at the world championships. Last summer, she served as Canada’s assistant chef de mission for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Gaylord Powless

The “Marvellous Mohawk” from Ohsweken, Ont., was a star in both the junior and professional levels of lacrosse. Powless led the Oshawa Green Gaels to four Minto Cup championships from 1964 to 1967 and twice was selected most valuable player. The legend of Gaylord Powless — lacrosse savant. Named the top Native athlete in Canada at age 17, Powless and his father Ross are members of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the only father-son tandem to be inducted in the players’ category. Gaylord Powless died from cancer on July 28, 2001 at age 54.

Edmonton Grads

Long before the Edmonton Oilers dynasty years in the 1980s, the Grads women’s basketball team dominated the competition. A remarkable 25-year run that began in 1915 saw the team become Canadian, North American and world champions while changing the attitude of those who viewed women competing in sports as unhealthy. The Grads won 16 straight world titles and posted a 502-20 record, once beating a French squad 109-20, before disbanding in 1940 because of travel restrictions resulting from World War II. Dr. Robert W. Jackson. A talented surgeon, Dr. Jackson was credited with bringing the practice of arthroscopy to North America from Japan. The Toronto native was also a founding member of the Canadian Paralympic movement in 1967, helping Canada make its debut at the 1968 Paralympic Games in Tel Aviv. In 1976, Dr. Jackson organized the Olympiad for the physically challenged that ran parallel to the Montreal Olympics. He died on Jan. 6, 2010 at age 78.

Dr. Charles Tator

Dr. Tator, 80, is a world renowned expert on sports concussions and spinal cord injury, prevention and treatment research. The Toronto-based neurosurgeon is an advocate for stronger regulations around head shots in hockey and his laboratory was the first in Canada to study acute spinal cord injury. Dr. Tator founded ThinkFirstCanada in 1992, an organization that educates youngsters about safety, and helped develop the Canadian Brain and Nerve Health Coalition in 2002. Two years earlier, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.

Mike Weir still chasing the dream at Augusta

by Dave Feschuk (Toronto Star)

AUGUSTA, GA.—It looked like an idyllic picture of an athletic retirement. The past couple of times Mike Weir has ventured to Augusta National in preparation for this week’s 81st Masters, he has crossed paths with Peyton Manning, the football great.

A little more than a year removed from winning a career-capping Super Bowl, Manning, at age 41, now counts himself as one of the exclusive club’s new members. The privileged life, at least a glimpse of it from the outside, seems to be agreeing with the old quarterback.

“I’ve seen him there with some buddies playing golf and having breakfast, and you can just see the excitement on everybody’s face. It’s pretty neat to see that,” Weir was saying the other day. “Everybody’s like a kid in a candy store.”

Springtime in Augusta has been known to have that effect on people. But if Manning apparently wears the look of a man content in his post-professional existence, Weir can’t exactly relate. Though Weir long ago cemented his legacy as Canada’s greatest golfer — his 2003 Masters victory will forever loom as one of the country’s greatest sporting moments — he isn’t yet ready to view his days as a sportsman in the past tense. Which is not to say relative eons haven’t passed since he was competitively relevant. It’s been 14 years since Tiger Woods slipped the green jacket onto Weir’s shoulders and a decade since Weir last won a tournament on the PGA Tour.

And somewhere in the ensuing blur of missed cuts and injury-induced absences and the personal tumult around a 2014 divorce that he admits diverted his attention from his craft, certainly one could get the idea that Weir, who will turn 47 next month, was gracefully coming to see his annual appearances here as more ceremonial than serious. Last year Weir even pre-committed to providing weekend TV analysis of the Masters for TSN — all but acknowledging his snowball’s chance in Georgia of making the cut. Performing to those expectations, he was excluded from Saturday and Sunday rounds for the fifth time in six years.

“Last year I wasn’t in a place, with everything going on in my life, to feel like I’d put in the time to be 100% competitive,” Weir said.

But this year, he says, is a different matter.

“This year I’ve put a lot of time in. I’ve been to Augusta a number of times. And I’m focussed on my game again. And that’s really where my mind is right now,” he said.

To that end, Weir turned down TSN’s offer of weekend broadcasting this year with an eye toward a better performance. If he’s spent time staring into the face of an existence mostly free of tournament golf — and heading into this week he had played in just one PGA Tour event this season — he hasn’t liked the look of it.

“I just love the game. I don’t feel like you give up something you love to do,” he said. “Sure, you get frustrated with the game sometimes, and the score you’re shooting. But the love of the game never goes away, and the love to compete. The Champions Tour (for players 50 and over) is only a few years away. I’m still relatively healthy. I feel good. And I just love to compete.”

He’ll compete here, in a tournament he’s viewing as a springboard to coming events on the European Tour, while also handing down some of his hard-won wisdom to a couple of fellow Canadians. On Tuesday Weir is scheduled to play a practice round with first-timers Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., and Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., both 20-somethings who’ve won on the PGA Tour in recent months. If it’s something of an historic moment in the national golf pantheon — the Maple Leaf hasn’t been represented by as many as three players at Augusta since 1968, when George Knudson, Al Balding and Gary Cowan were in the field — both Hughes and Hadwin have spoken of Tuesday’s round with Weir as an important moment in their development.

“Mike is incredible. He’s hugely motivated still, which at that age is incredible,” Hughes said in an interview. “He just doesn’t have any give-up in his body, which is quite amazing to me. It’s definitely inspiring and cool to watch a guy of that stature never give up. He doesn’t need the money. But he’s got goals and aspirations he still wants to achieve. It’s really cool to see him still going after it and chasing the dream.”

Chasing is an operative word, and one of Weir’s challenges is that he’s often left in the dust off the tee. Nobody’s bomber even in his prime, Weir has spoken of how a 2010 tendon injury in his right elbow has sapped some of the strength from his swing. In a sport in which world No. 1 Dustin Johnson couples mammoth drives with pinpoint wedging, being a short hitter is more daunting than ever. But Weir insists there remains a niche to be carved out.

“There’s courses where the long guys have big advantages. But there’s courses out there where they don’t. You saw Zach Johnson win at the British Open a couple of years ago, at St. Andrews, with deft touch with the short game, and a very strategic game. That’s still in play out there,” Weir said. “It can be done. It’s just a little bit harder.”

And so Weir finds himself in a place that’s both foreign and familiar. It’s foreign to the Weir who peaked at No. 3 in the world and won $27 million (U.S.) in PGA Tour prize money. But it’s familiar to the Weir who slogged through year upon year on the Canadian tour in the 1990s, all the while never imagining the enormity of the success that lay ahead. All these years later, a man not yet ready for post-retirement rounds with his buddies is hoping that some of his personal history can repeat itself, that an unlikely underdog might once again defy all reasonable expectations.

“My whole life I’ve been told I couldn’t do things. I was told I was too small when I was a junior golfer. I didn’t hit it far enough. I didn’t do this well enough. Then I was stuck on the Canadian Tour — ‘You’ll never make it.’ That’s been the story of my career, really,” Weir said. “The enduring thing through all that is my belief in myself. That just doesn’t go away. I still believe in myself. I believe I can make it back to the PGA Tour and do well on the PGA Tour.”

Weir named Presidents Cup Assistant Captain

by CP

Mike Weir has plenty of experience with the highs and lows of professional golf, and he’s hoping to bring that knowledge to his new role as assistant captain of the International team at this fall’s Presidents Cup.

The 2003 Masters champion has played in five Presidents Cup tournaments during his career, but will be on the sidelines this time as one of captain Nick Price’s four assistants.

His role will be to support Price, his playing partner in the 2000 and 2003 Presidents Cups, in decisions on pairings and provide advice to the players leading up to and during the event.

Weir said he feels he can help individual players with their confidence and guide them in adjusting to the heightened atmosphere.

“When you have 12 guys on a team, not everyone is going to be playing great,” Weir said in an interview Tuesday after his appointment was announced. “Maybe I’ll be there to build up a guy’s confidence because I’ve been on both sides of that — going into a Presidents Cup feeling really good, or other times when a captain has to build me up,” he said. “If a certain player is struggling with a certain shot, I can help with those little details that may play big dividends at crucial times.”

The biennial competition pits the United States against a team of players from countries outside Europe.

While the 46-year-old Weir won’t be playing this time, he said he’s looking forward to being involved.

“It’s been a big part of my career and there have been some really special memories,” Weir said. “To be part of it again, with Nick being the captain — a guy I really look up and have really followed for a while — it’s going to be really special. I get along with the other assistants really well, so I’m sure we’re going to work well together.”

Weir will be joined by fellow assistants Ernie Els of South Africa, Geoff Ogilvy of Australia and Tony Johnstone of Zimbabwe in the Sept. 26-Oct. 1 event at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J.

There are currently no Canadians with enough points to automatically qualify for the International team, but Weir said it would be “awesome” if one or more could make it.

“I would certainly love to see a Canadian or two on the team, and they’re certainly capable of doing it,” Weir said.

Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., is the highest-ranked Canadian at 26th in the standings, and Hadwin said he would relish the opportunity if he ended up making the team.

“The Presidents Cup hasn’t really been on my radar, and I know I have a lot of work to do to make the team,” he said. “But no doubt it would be an honour play alongside some of the great international players, and of course to play for Nick Price and Mike Weir, a guy that I’ve looked up to for years, like so many other kids growing up in Canada.”

Weir, a native of the Sarnia, Ont., community Bright’s Grove, doesn’t have any PGA Tour status this year. His play has been impacted in recent years by injuries and time off for personal reasons.

And although Weir said he has not spoken with anyone about taking the captain’s reins, he would love to have that opportunity, especially if the Presidents Cup comes back to Canada.

“Nick alluded to that, how they’re trying to have guys as assistants who can potentially be captains down the road. I’d certainly love to be a captain sometime,” stated Weir. “I’m just going to enjoy this year and this opportunity though, and if the chance came later, I’d be thrilled.”

In Conversation with Mike Weir

On 7 October 2016, the 2003 Masters golf champion Mike Weir of Sarnia, Ontario, spoke to Jeremy Freeborn for The Canadian Encyclopedia

JF: Why did you choose to focus on golf over other sports while growing up in southern Ontario?

MW: I played a lot of other sports. I played hockey and baseball. I like the solitude of golf. You’re not relying on teammates. You’re not relying on a referee. It is all about you and your ability to master [something] yourself. Looking back, I think that is what intrigued me about golf. I have always been a hard worker, [and] do not rely on anyone else.

JF: At what point did you first realize that you could become a high performance golfer?

MW: I think the first time was when I was 13 years old. I went to play a tournament at Seaforth Golf and Country Club. Back then it was only a nine hole course. I won the 18-and-under division. None of the older juniors could believe that I won. They all thought that I had cheated or something. They all asked my playing partners if I had shot 70. I did of course, and that is when I knew I was pretty good and I had a passion for it.

JF: What was your most memorable moment while competing in amateur golf in Canada?

MW: My most memorable moment was my first Ontario Men’s Amateur Golf Championship win at the Mississauga Golf and Country Club in 1990. I shot a 68 in the final round to beat the two-time United States Amateur champion Gary Cowan. I also beat some other well-established amateurs. When I won my first Ontario amateur championship with a ten-foot putt on the last hole to win, that was very memorable.

JF: Discuss some of the challenges of being a student athlete. How difficult was it to be one of the top golfers at the NCAA level, and concentrate on your academics at the same time?

MW: It was difficult. It’s a balancing act. I tried to schedule a lot of my classes early in the morning to try and be done by noon, so I could have the afternoon to practice golf. I had to register early to make sure I got the classes that I wanted. I also had to keep up with my classes when I was out of town.

JF: How beneficial was your Canadian Tour experience in helping you reach your PGA Tour goals?

MW: It had everything to do with it. By playing on the smaller tours such as Asia, Australia and especially on the Canadian Tour, it is where you cut your teeth as a professional. You learn a lot about your game and a lot about yourself. You learn how to manage your time, your emotions and how to get better at golf. My Canadian Tour experience had a lot to do with my success.

Right out of college, I was not ready yet to be an elite PGA tour player. I needed a few years of seasoning on the Canadian Tour to get my game better, to get my swing better, to learn how to score and play at the professional level. It had a great impact on my career.

JF: What do you remember most from winning the 1999 Air Canada Championship in Vancouver?

MW: That was one of the highlights of my career, really. I will always remember my first PGA Tour win. For it to happen in Canada, and the way it happened by dramatically holing a shot [an eagle] on the 14th hole, making a long putt on the 16th hole, and then making a really nice two putt on the 18th hole in front of a large crowd was very special and memorable.

JF: Prior to your Masters victory in 2003, you won the 2000 World Golf Championship in Spain and the 2001 PGA Tour Championship in Houston. Both victories were different, but both showed signs of perseverance and resiliency. In 2000, you came back from eight strokes to win, and in 2001, you needed to beat three high profile golfers (Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and David Toms) in a playoff. Why do you think you were able to win those tournaments?

MW: It was experience in Spain. In 2000, I had an OK year, but I felt I was on the verge of some really good golf. After two rounds, I was eight strokes behind. The reason I was eight strokes behind is because I made an eight, a triple bogey, on the 17th hole. A lot of players were having difficulty on that hole and making big numbers. Except for that hole, I felt I could be right in contention. On Saturday I got off to a really hot start and played some of the best golf I ever played in my life. I shot a 65 in tough conditions and made up a ton of ground [Weir moved from 14th to second]. I won on Sunday against some really good names such as Tiger Woods, Nick Price and Lee Westwood. I think it was a combination of experience from winning the year before in Canada and carrying that momentum into the next year.

At the 2001 PGA Tour Championship, I played very well in Houston. I found myself in a playoff against three great players and on the very first playoff hole was able to hit a long drive right down in the middle of the fairway. I then used my nine iron to get within eight feet of the hole. As it was getting kind of dark, I knew I did not want to give Els, Garcia or Toms another opportunity. I was able to make that putt in close to darkness to win.

JF: Looking back at your Masters title in 2003, what moment are you most proud of?

MW: The putt on that last hole in the fourth round. To make an eight-foot putt to stay alive and force a playoff, when the tournament was on the line, is something I am very proud of. I was very proud to stay focused, and not think about outcomes. I really tried to stay with what got me there with the chance to win. To make a putt like that, that was a career-defining putt. If you miss it and lose, you’re considered as the golfer that three-putted to lose the Masters.

JF: Your 2003 Masters Championship title will go down in history as one of the greatest moments in the history of Canadian sports. Along the way, you have also won three Lionel Conacher Awards and one Lou Marsh Award. How meaningful is it to be recognized as one of the greatest Canadian athletes?

MW: It is an honour. I didn’t set out for these things to happen. I just wanted to try and become a better player. I just wanted to keep pushing in the search of excellence. I guess along the way in that search, some good things happened — things I feel very grateful that I was able to accomplish. To be recognized for those awards is something really nice.

We [Canada] have had some great female players do some great things, but we haven’t had any male players win any major championships [until Weir at the Masters in 2003]. Hopefully some younger guys along the way will follow that path and break my records at some point.

JF: After your Masters victory, you played in two memorable tournaments on Canadian soil—the 2004 Canadian Open in Oakville, Ontario, and the 2007 Presidents Cup in Montréal, Québec. At the Canadian Open, you battled Vijay Singh and at the Presidents Cup, you battled Tiger Woods. How much do you think those two tournaments impacted Canadian golf?

MW: That is an interesting question. I am not sure how much they have impacted Canadian golf. Hopefully in regards to the Presidents Cup [in Montréal], I had a lot to do with getting the event to Canada. I worked with the Commissioner and the PGA Tour staff to really toot the horn of Canadian golf and try to get the event there. It was an event I was really glad to be part of and to have a match like that against Woods and win individually. It was unfortunate that our team didn’t win, but I was able to have a great match against Woods.

In 2004 [at the Canadian Open], I didn’t come out on the good end of that event. I had a memorable battle with Singh. It was a three hole playoff, which I did not win. Singh had one of the most remarkable years in the history of golf. In 2004, he had a nine win season, including a major championship [the PGA Championship]. Singh was the number one player in the world. I almost got him [Weir led after the third round], but didn’t get it done.

I think the Presidents Cup impacted Canadian golf more than the 2004 Canadian Open because of the global and international attention that was brought to Montréal and Canada. The event was represented by golfers all around the world [except Europe] and broadcasted all around the world.

JF: Canadian golf had a significant moment in 2016 when Brooke Henderson won the Women’s PGA Championship. Do you think she has the potential to be the leader in Canadian golf for the next decade?

MW: Yes, she has the potential to do that. Henderson is so young, and so talented. She seems like such a great lady, and seems to have the talent to be the best player in the women’s game. I think Henderson and Lydia Ko of New Zealand are going to be the leaders in women’s golf. Henderson will lead the charge in Canada without a doubt. She has the talent to do that and I think the sky’s the limit for Brooke.

JF: When you received your Order of Canada in 2009, Governor General Michaëlle Jean praised your charitable activities. What can you tell me about your charitable initiatives and how gratifying is it that the programs have been positively recognized?

MW: I am super proud of that [the Mike Weir Foundation]. Recognition is not why I got into the work I have done with the Children’s Miracle Network and helping out children’s charities. I did it because the way the PGA Tour has all the players involved in giving back to their communities.

When I was a rookie on the PGA Tour, I went to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. I saw the great work they did there and I wanted to start something like that in Canada. For Governor General Michaëlle Jean to recognize me with that was a great honour. It is something I am very proud of to this day, all the work the foundation does with children’s hospitals and charities.

JF: For those young golfers who have dreams of taking the sport to the next level, what would you tell them?

MW: It is a tough road and you have to persevere. The weaker ones will try to find excuses along the way. You have to find answers and solutions and try to keep a positive attitude all of the time. You have to get up and dust yourself off. In sport and life, it is not always a one way trajectory up. There are peaks and valleys along the way. You have to overcome those things, whatever those are. You just have to persevere and have an unwavering self-belief about yourself, no matter what anyone says and no matter how it is going. The underlying tone is that you have confidence in yourself and nothing is going to shake that confidence. That is the best advice I can give.

JF: In 2016 you did some broadcasting work for TSN at the Masters and for TNT at the PGA Championship. How has the transition to television gone for you?

MW: I am still very focused on my game and that is where most of my energies are going… towards my own game. If the odd opportunity comes along to do some television, I do enjoy it. I may pursue that at some point. I’m not at that point yet.

JF: This year golf legend Arnold Palmer passed away [on 25 September 2016] and you attended his funeral in Pennsylvania. What kind of an impact did Palmer have on the Canadian golf scene?

MW: I think he had a big impact. His first professional tour victory was the Canadian Open [1955 at the Weston Golf and Country Club in Toronto, Ontario]. Arnold was always such a big supporter of the Canadian Open. He was such a great ambassador of the game. No matter where he went around the world, people loved him. Palmer also designed golf courses in Canada [the Northview Golf and Country Club in Surrey, British Columbia and the Whistler Golf Club]. I think Canadian golf fans will never forget Arnold Palmer.

JF: What Canadian has inspired you the most and why?

MW: There are so many people I admire. If I had to say one that sticks out right now is Terry Fox. I remember as a kid, when I was in school, I was watching his courageous battle with cancer and his journey across the country. He had setbacks, but fought hard, was tough and had perseverance.I will always remember that [his journey] and in some ways I carry that with me.