By ADAM STANLEY
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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, of Brights Grove, Ont., 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 of Moose Jaw, 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 very 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Since then, Weir has missed 25 cuts and withdrawn five times on the PGA Tour.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-yearold shows no signs of giving up.
"My game feels good," Weir said during a telephone interview. "Since Australia, I had a month off.
"Last week was okay. I shook off a little rust. I was a little bit inconsistent, but a lot of good things. Over all, 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, otherwise 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 early 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 played.
"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 chief executive 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 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.
Mike Weir lines up a putt on the 17th green during the BMW South African Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club on Jan. 11 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Weir admitted he's battling a knee injury after 'landing funny' while walking the course early last week.
WARREN LITTLE/ GETTY IMAGES