Mike Weir is Canada’s greatest professional golfer, the one person in the sport that average Canadians recognize. They’ll ask about him, wondering, “How’s Mike doing?” It is a question I often get asked by people with a cursory interest in golf.
The answer is not very well.
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Weir, on the verge of turning 44, is in the field at this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and has continued to struggle to find the form that once made him one of the best in the world. He’s made five cuts in 16 tournaments this year, including playing the weekend at the Masters, but his last Top 10 finish came in 2010. That’s a long time ago in golf terms, and Weir is now playing on his second all-time money exemption. His performance on the course wouldn’t get him into tournaments.
Once ranked in the Top 10 in the world, Weir now sits at 589 on the Official World Golf Rankings. And that’s an improvement over recent years when he’s struggled to make any cuts. Somehow, throughout it all, Weir remains upbeat.
“My game is good,” Weir said just before the Masters. “I’ve struggled on the greens, which is unlike me. I’m playing well enough to put myself right there. It is the same as everybody – you have to put it together. I’m seeing some very good things, but I’m just not putting the ball very well. That’s what I’ve been spending my time on.”
But putting isn’t the only issue Weir has with his game. He’s continued to struggle with the dreaded situation of being both crooked and short off the tee. Never one of golf’s big hitters, he played an exacting game that emphasized his chipping and putting. But even that’s not up to speed this year, leaving Weir on the outside looking in. He no longer has any money exemptions left, meaning the former Masters winner could be forced to head to the Web.com Tour, golf’s version of the minor leagues, if his play doesn’t improve.
Weir is convinced it will. He dumped his swing coach, Grant Waite, late last year in an attempt to work his way through his struggles on his own.
So far he hasn’t been able to do so, though his play at the Masters showed some signs of improvement.
In the meantime Weir continues to search for the golf game that once placed him on a short list of the best in the world and led him to eight PGA Tour wins. Golf’s an elusive game, and Weir is still hoping that, just as it disappeared, the touch that made him one of the game’s stars will return.
This week’s tournament: Zurich Classic
Television times: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday/Sunday on Global
Players to watch:
Justin Rose: Though the Englishman was injured earlier in the year, Rose is starting to round into form, with a T8 at the Valspar and T14 at the Masters in his last three tournaments.
Bo Van Pelt: One of the golf’s steadiest performers in recent years, Van Pelt is in the midst of a marginal year. He hasn’t played the Zurich in recent seasons, so perhaps this is the week he’ll break out of the doldrums.
Patrick Reed: The breakout star of this PGA Tour season, Reed missed the cut at the Zurich last year. But with two wins and more than $3-million in earnings, Reed has to be considered a favorite in practically every event he’s entered in.
Other notables: Keegan Bradley, Billy Horschel, Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler
Canadians in the field: Mike Weir, Graham DeLaet, Brad Fritsch, Stephen Ames, David Hearn
© Shaw Media, 2014