Mike Weir shows Graham DeLaet the ropes at Masters

AUGUSTA – When Mike Weir was an uninitiated Masters rookie, past champions Fred Couples and Jack Nicklaus tutored him on some of Augusta National’s more subtle secrets.

He learned his lessons well enough to win the 2003 Masters. On Tuesday, he took fellow Canadian and Masters rookie Graham DeLaet to school on the fairways and greens, even subjecting the newcomer to one of Augusta National’s fabled roars when he knocked a tee shot into the cup at the par-three 16th.

“I was trying to cut a five-iron,” said Weir of his tee shot at 16. “I hit the first one straight, into the water. Just wanted to get a feel for the next one and it went right in the hole. It’s kind of fun because at that hole you can see it all the way to the hole.”

The crowd went ballistic. All part of the educational experience.

“It was awesome,” said DeLaet. “It was nice to have Mike kind of showing me around. He was giving me guidance on a few things that other players had given him, guys like Jack (Nicklaus) and Freddy (Couples) and stuff along the way. That’s one of the cool things out here that guys kind of pass things along. You go to a regular tournament and guys kind of keep things secretive. But for whatever reason, out here you just kind of pass the torch along. Any time I asked, he was more than happy to point out a few things along the way I wouldn’t have known about.”

There is a fine line between helpful tips and information overload that Weir is acutely aware of.

“Walking down the first fairway,” said Weir, “I said to him, ‘I won’t tell you anything unless you want to know’ and he said, ‘No, tell me what you know.’

“I wasn’t overloading him because our games are so different. He has more power, hitting shorter irons into greens, while I’m probably playing more for position. He can be more aggressive. I told him to be mindful of that. I’m telling him how I play it because I’m back there hitting a four-iron. You might be up there with an eight iron so you can be more aggressive. He’s aware of that, but definitely some of the stuff around the greens is applicable to everybody.”

DeLaet has a game that is well-suited to Augusta. He hits it long and, for the most part, straight. He also has a deadly iron game. He’s one of 24 first-timers here this year, trying to figure out the golf course’s nuances.

“I can guarantee that every one of the first-timers believes in themselves and they’re coming out here trying to win the golf tournament,” said DeLaet. “There’s no question that the more times you’ve been around here, the more things you notice. You put it in the memory bank. But it’s not to say it can’t be done.”