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Inside the Ropes: Weir hopes to cap comeback with Canadian title

The SportsXchange

Mike Weir is recognized the greatest golfer Canada has produced, with 16 victories as a professional including the 2003 Masters, the only major title ever won by a golfer from north of the border.

This week he plays for the 23rd time in a tournament he would rather win more than any other except the Grand Slam events, the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario, his home province.

After years of injuries, Weir is showing signs that his game might be returning, and he hopes to show off a little for the home fans. The 43-year-old veteran has been bothered by yet another injury this year, to his ribs, but he managed a promising tie for 28th in the U.S. Open at Merion.

"Obviously the Canadian Open is the first professional tournament that I saw live, in person," Weir said. "I think it was probably about 1985, maybe even earlier than that ... '83.

"I've relayed this story before. There was a junior clinic with Andy Bean and Tom Kite at Glen Abbey, and being on the range and ... seeing those guys up close, in person, got me really inspired to start thinking it's something I'd love to do some day. So I look forward to this event every year."

Weir hasn't won the Canadian Open, but in 2004 at Glen Abbey, he nearly became the first Canadian since Pat Fletcher in 1954 to take home the title before losing on the third playoff hole to Vijay Singh.

Ironically, that's when Weir's injury problems began, as he was grabbed affectionately by one of his adoring fans while walking through the crowd on the way from one green to the next tee.

The friendly hug resulted in two compressed disks in his neck, which bothered Weir for the next few years. However, the biggest setback was a torn ligament in his right elbow that he sustained in 2010, an injury that eventually required surgery the next year.

Weir lost his PGA Tour card, missing the cut an incredible 35 times the last three seasons, and even went so far as to play two events on the European Tour last season in an effort to turn things around.

Through it all, he has kept his perspective and never lost hope.

"I think there were times that, yeah, you wonder, when you're injured and you get a little older, you kind of wonder," he said. "But I was very determined to get back. I still love the game. I still love the practice. I enjoy the competition.

"So, yeah, I was very motivated to get back. I feel like I still have quite a bit of good golf left. If I didn't, I wouldn't have worked as hard to get back. I still feel motivated. I still feel I can do some good things."

Bothered by the rib injury, Weir nearly had to withdraw from the Masters in April on the 10th anniversary of becoming the first left-hander to capture a major since Bob Charles of New Zealand won the 1963 Open Championship.

Weir, who played college golf at BYU and now lives in Sandy, Utah, gutted out two rounds in Augusta, Ga., but suffered one of his 10 missed cuts this season at 72-79--151.

However, things began to go his way when he opened with 68-68 at the Travelers Championship, although he had a disappointing weekend of 73-70 to tie for 33rd.

He lost out in a playoff during U.S. Open qualifying in Ohio, but he holed a 20-foot putt in semi-darkness to secure a spot as first alternate.

Three days before the tournament, the United States Golf Association announced that he was in.

Weir played his best golf of the season, considering the circumstances, when he made it through all four rounds of a brutal U.S. Open at Merion and tied for 28th by closing with a 1-under-par 69.

"My ball-striking is getting much better," said Weir, who posted four scores in the 60s and tied for 27th in the John Deere Classic two weeks ago. "I have strength in my arm again. I am feeling good. I'm feeling much better.

"(I'm about) 80 percent. Getting there for sure. A lot of days it feels very good, and I would say (in U.S. Open qualifying), that day that was about the best ball-striking I've had in a few years. It was just really phenomenal ball-striking.

"I just have to put it all together."

If it happens at Glen Abbey, Weir will have come full circle.
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