TORONTO (AP) — Mike Weir escaped the usual talk about the long home drought in the Canadian Open, fielding questions instead about his sore right arm and historic St. George’s Golf and Country Club.
Trying to become the first Canadian winner in 56 years and first Canadian-born champion in 96 years, the 40-year-old Weir skipped the final three holes in his pro-am round Wednesday to get treatment for tendinitis.
“It started bugging me a little bit last week at the British Open,” the left-hander said. “I put a little brace on it Monday when we played, and that seemed to do the trick pretty well. I kind of took it easy – just hit probably 20, 30 balls – yesterday.
“Today it progressively got worse. So, I decided to call it a day after 15 holes and got it worked on. So, hopefully I’ll get it ready for tomorrow.”
Weir, the 2003 Masters champion who won the last of his eight PGA Tour titles in 2007, has one top-25 finish – a sixth-place tie in the Bob Hope Classic in January – in 14 stroke-play events this year. He missed the cut last week at St. Andrews, the fourth time he has dropped out after two rounds in his last six starts.
In the pro-am, he had a black elastic brace wrapped around his arm just below the elbow and frequently massaged his biceps and forearm between shots.
“Every week, sometimes, you’re not 100 percent, and it’s just happened that it’s this week that it’s bothering me, but I don’t think it’s a distraction,” Weir said. “It’s just the fact that, I’m not able to practice as much as I would have liked to coming off three weeks off and only playing two rounds last week at the British.”
English star Paul Casey, at No. 8 the top-ranked player in the field, knows what Weir is going through trying to win his national championship.
“As much as you (Canadians) want a Canadian to win a Canadian Open, I guarantee that Mike Weir wants it a thousand times more than you could ever imagine he wants it,” said Casey, coming off a third-place tie Sunday at St. Andrews.
“To win your national championship, that’s what you want. For me, winning the Open championship is the ultimate goal. For an American, the U.S. Open, and I’m sure for Mike Weir, he wants to win the Canadian Open. … He just needs a little bit of luck.”
Pat Fletcher, born in England, was the last Canadian winner, taking the 1954 event at Point Grey in Vancouver. Carl Keffer is the only Canadian-born champion, winning in 1909 and 1914. Albert Murray, a Canadian also born in England, won in 1908 and 1913.
It also has been a long time since the last Canadian Open at Stanley Thompson-designed St. George’s, the hilly, tree-lined classic with thick rough and tricky, undulating greens. Back in 1968, Bob Charles won at 6 under, hitting a 7-iron to inches for a closing birdie and a two-stroke victory over Jack Nicklaus. The club, called Royal York until 1946, also was the tournament site in 1933, ’49 and ’60.
“I think 9 under, when it’s all said and done, would be very good,” Weir said. “Just because, on the greens, you have to be underneath the hole. But when you’re hitting 3- and 4-irons in there, sometimes you’re going to find yourself above it. And they’re really difficult above the hole.”
When asked if St. George’s was a second-shot course, defending champion Nathan Green said he was simply worried about getting the ball in play off the tee.
“You just won’t be able to hit the green from the rough,” said Green, a playoff winner over Retief Goosen last year at Glen Abbey.
DIVOTS: The 2011 tournament will be played at Shaughnessy in Vancouver, and the 2012 event is set for Hamilton Golf and Country Club, where members voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to host the championship for the third time in 10 years. … Because of logistical problems, the players will start on the first and ninth holes Thursday and Friday instead of the usual first and 10th. They’re using the driving range at Islington Golf Club, a 5-minute drive from St. George’s.