Mike Weir Qualified for the U.S. Open
With all the hoopla surrounding the supposed favorites for the U.S. Open, it caught my attention (and sense of appreciation) that former Masters champion Mike Weir has qualified for the upcoming major, by the skin of his teeth, but he has qualified.
There are two ways, perhaps, of looking at qualification for former champions. For me, to win the Masters means that you can play at, and belong at that level, and unless you are infirm in some way that brings your abilities into question, your invitation to the other majors should be automatic. The other approach, shared by many (and the PGA, apparently) is “What have you done for us lately?”
To win a major, even if you only do it once, is big stuff, and a golfer who does that is an important person in the industry for the rest of his life. Besides, Mike Weir isn’t a one-hit wonder (although the Masters is a heck of a hit). You don’t win on that stage by a fluke, and he showed it by remaining in contention in the U.S. Open the same year. An event Weir places above even that is a Presidents Cup match in which he defeated Tiger Woods (that’s never a fluke, either). He won the Nissan Open twice, and the Air Canada Championship in ’99, his first win on tour, and the first victory at the event by a Canadian in 45 years.
Weir, now 43, came out of Sarnin, Ontario, and like many young Canadian boys, played hockey as a first sport (he’s a devout Detroit Red Wings fan). However, when Jack Nicklaus visited in Weir’s 11th year, everything turned, and he poured his efforts into golf, as a lefty. In fact, he is the only southpaw other than New Zealand’s Bob Charles to win a major on the PGA tour. Giving strong consideration to switching, Jack’s advice to remain where he was the most comfortable made a strong impression, and Weir never gave much thought to going right-handed again.
Turning pro in ’92 after undergraduate years at Brigham Young University, Weir has experienced lean years as well, including some recouping time from an elbow injury. Despite a strong sense of self in regards to his swing, he sought out some of the coaches who were with him at his successful start, as additional “pairs of eyes.” His personal life seems to be in the right place, living in Sandy, Utah, with his family, and overseeing a burgeoning wine enterprise. He has also ventured into course design, and his first large-scale project at the Blue Course of Laval-sur-le-lac has come to fruition after years of hard work.
The 2013 year hasn’t been all that generous to Weir. He’s earned about 90,000, but he seems serious in citing recent improvements in his game of late, even when the score doesn’t necessarily reflect it. But, I keep coming back to that qualifying thing. I guess it’s good for maintaining the standard for the game’s performance level, and younger players are always seeking entry, but anyone who’s won the Masters has joined a small pantheon of golfers who proved themselves in a way that’s almost impossible to surpass. Weir’s still relatively young, and his Masters win happened only ten years ago. If I were in charge of a tour such as this, I’d want his presence gracing the event.
Oh well, the alleged favorite and the last qualifier start the first round tied, and anything can happen. I’ll keep an eye on Mike Weir this week, because I still think he’s got game.