RBC Canadian Open interview: Mike Weir

July 24, 2013

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THE MODERATOR:  Please welcome Mike Weir to the Shaw Media Center.  Mike, obviously, it's always special to be back at the RBC Canadian Open.  But you've also had some success here at Glen Abbey with a pair of Top 5 finishes.  Maybe you can start off by telling us what it's like to be back at Glen Abbey for this week, and we'll open it up for some questions.

MIKE WEIR:  It's always great to be back at the Canadian Open.  In this venue, in particularly, it's actually when I started my career, I had a really tough time at this golf course, and I've had more success the last few times we've played here.  I have to say I was a little concerned.  I played here ‑‑ I was telling Robert, I played here ten weeks ago or so, and I was a little concerned for the golf course, but they've done an unbelievable job getting the golf course ready.

It's in tremendous shape, really healthy, and around the greens it's very difficult with some funny lies around the greens, you know, in an Open Championship, this is our national open, you want it to be somewhat difficult around the greens in case you miss the fairways.

I think as the week goes on, some of the rough will grow a little bit, and I think it's going to be a good championship here.

Q.  First off, this event, I know it was talked about yesterday with Scott Simmons and be Stephen Ames talked about it, but it brings up the whole idea of the future of golf in Canada.  Where do you stand on that?  Where do you see golf in this country going?  Where do you feel the mantle lies?  There is 25‑year‑old Adam had win, there is still let, how does that look in your perspective?

MIKE WEIR:  Well, to answer the first part of your question, I think it's healthy.  I think the game and the men's game is healthy.  There are a lot of players, obviously, Brad and David and Graham doing so well out there this year, and I think there is a lot of talent there.  Most of the younger guys ‑‑ I played a practice round with Adam after the U.S. Open, and I think he's got a really bright future as well.  And we know some of the amateurs that just turned pro and some of the other guys, so I think it's very bright.

The second part, a mantle:  I don't know if that's fair to put on anybody right now.  I hope you don't for their shake, and I hope they can just learn to flourish.  I think Brad, if you were here the other night, Monday night when we had the Pro‑Am, and we were talking about things of this nature, And Brad said time is a big thing.  I thought that was well said.  Sometimes guys ‑‑ well, it's very rare that guys right out of college get on Tour, but Brad is 35, first year on Tour.  It's taken him time.

And I played with him.  He's really good.  He's going to be really good too.  But some guys, different times in their career.  So to put a mantle on some guys early,  we've had lots of players with great success in the last couple of years.  They haven't quite done it yet, but you can't say in five years they won't be top 10 in the world.  You never know.

There is so much depth in the game worldwide even on the smaller Tours.  So I think there is a lot of talent in the country.  I don't know if you want to pick one guy, but there is definitely talent here, I know.  It's exciting.  As a fan, too.  I'm a fan.  I want these guys to do great.  I want them to blow past my record.  I'd love to see that.

Q.  You'd like to beat them this week as well?

MIKE WEIR:  Yeah, I'd like to beat them.  I'd like to win the Canadian Open too.

Q.  You get asked every year how important the Canadian Open is to you, and rightfully so.  Graeme McDowell and Ernie Els were just in here, Hunter Mahan, talking about playing a national open and what it means to them.  Even if it's not their own National Championship, even if it's not a major championship, do you feel the same way when you're playing something, some other country's national open?  Is that a special thing for a player?

MIKE WEIR:  I think it is, in particularly this one because it's outside of the British Open and Open Championship, it's the oldest championship, and it's always had high prestige.  I think it's really coming back to that now.  It's really getting a great international flavor.  We were kind of down there for a few years, but it's coming back.  I think the event is really starting to gather some momentum and getting a really special feel about it now.

So it's great to hear Graeme and Ernie say that.  I think the top players really feel that way.  The Canadian Open would be really nice on the resume.

Q.  Is it tougher for a Canadian?  Because I know this week there are 19 Canadians in the field, and it's different, obviously, at other Opens as well, like the U.S. Open, for example.  A lot more Americans are playing in it.  Does that set the focus more on not only you, but you mentioned the younger people coming up, does that put more pressure on them, and is that, in fact, a good thing because you get the home crowd behind you and get the momentum going?

MIKE WEIR:  Well, I think, yeah.  When there are not as many players in the field.  You mentioned the U.S. Open, and more than half the field are U.S. guys.  But, yeah.  When there are 19 this year, that's got to be the most.  I mean, that's wonderful to have that many guys.  But, yeah, you feel it as a Canadian.

I remember playing on the Canadian Tour.  And this is pretty much the lone PGA TOUR event I would play.  It's a big purse, and you're used to playing for this amount of money.  And all of a sudden, if I make the cut, I can really make some headway, so you're thinking about all those kind of things when you're a young man out here.  So, yeah, there is that added feel and pressure, no question.

It can be a good thing though to get the crowd behind you.  Get some momentum going, and you can feed off the crowd, so that can be a good thing too.

Q.  Last year when you were at Hamilton, you described your game as awful when you got here.  It looked like you were in the midst of a transition and trying to sort things out.  You started working with Grant and lots of stuff to do.  Can you give me a sense of where you're at now coming into this week and maybe some sense of what is it like to struggle like that?  Most people play the game to relate on some level to that, unfortunately, but to come from a year ago to where you are now?

MIKE WEIR:  Yeah, I stand on the range, and I've said that to Grant a few time this is year when I've been on a range at a particular tournament and said look where I was last year at this tournament.  The confidence level and the way I'm playing from a year ago is a big change.  I feel confident when I tee it up on Thursday every week now.  It's not quite where I want it to be, but I could say that about weeks that I've won before the week started and then things can kind of come together and you end up winning a tournament.

So I'm hoping this week I feel good about my game, and I think if I can get some momentum going early in this tournament and get rolling, I'll have a good chance.

Q.  What are you working with or on with Grant at the moment?  Is there a key particular aspect of the game that you continue to sort of pick away at?

MIKE WEIR:  I think just my tendencies.  Just my tendencies.  I think they're the same that I started with.  They're just less of that now.  But they're still tendencies that I have and the way I move them and the way I move the club I'm just trying to sort ‑‑ I wouldn't even say sort through.  Just get hold of and be more efficient with.

Look, these guys hit it a long way now.  For me to compete, I have to be more down the middle and get it on the green and let my short game do the work.  It's always been my game.  I'm not trying to find more distance.  I'm not trying to find anything more like that.  That's not part of what I'm working with Grant for.  It's just to get a little more efficiency.

Q.  Given your position, you have a handful of tournaments left before you would or would not get into the playoffs.  Do you feel more pressure given the new structure to play as much as you can and try to get those last few events in and try to turn a year around at this point?

MIKE WEIR:  Yeah, definitely, no question.  It's an odd year because it's the Fall Series.  This now counts for next year, and using one of my exemptions, and I missed a month with a rib injury.  It feels like the season has been really short, and I've been playing catch‑up the last couple of months to try to play a lot.  So my body is definitely feeling it.

I've been practicing a lot and playing a lot in the last little bit.  I have one more week to go next week, and then we'll see if these two weeks go well, maybe I get into the PGA.

It's definitely crammed in with the schedule.  But at the same time, I don't feel that much pressure because if I had to, I could use one of my all-time ‑‑ that other exemption next year, and have a good full year and hopefully not have any setbacks.  It will be year two with Grant, and I think I'll be good next year.

Q.  Everybody knows how hard you work.  But I'm just wondering what one week like the U.S. Open can do for your confidence or what it did for your confidence?  You got in and in the end you almost qualified last in the playoffs and I think had you to play hard and make some birdies to make the cut at a very tough golf course.  I think you played exceptionally well on Sunday in one of the lowest rounds.  But a National Championship like that on such a tough golf course when you're working so hard to recover your form, what did that do for you immediately thereafter?  And to what extent has it carried over?

MIKE WEIR:  I would say, yeah, some validity of what I'm doing on a tough golf course to drive it that well.  To put the ball in key positions and manage my game again the way I normally do.  So, yeah, I definitely carried some confidence.  Playing a round like that on Sunday was very good for my confidence.

I haven't quite carried that momentum the last couple of weeks.  I played really well at John Deere.  I was really close there to being really good, but didn't quite get over the hump.  I putted okay that week.  So, yeah.  Not quite what I thought I'd do after that.

Q.  Scoring is obviously important at your level.  You want to post the scores, but at the same time haven't you been the guy that looks at what you're doing with the golf ball to define what you're doing as opposed to fooling yourself because you had 23 putts one day?

MIKE WEIR:  That's true.  I have much more confidence with my ball striking and I'm able to spend more time on my short game now.  I spent so much time on my long game, that that feels pretty good for the most part now.  And you said the scoring aspect, and I'm not fooling myself.  I go out there and I tested like the U.S. Open.  You can't fool yourself around a place like that.

Q.  You talk about confidence.  You had a merry band of about a dozen people following you today including somebody wearing a Red Wings jersey just to make sure you'd notice him.  Through all the valleys you've been through in your career, do you derive anything like that from the support you have?  Not just those merry band of followers, but Canadian fans in general who still follow you even though you've gone through a rough patch in your career?

MIKE WEIR:  Oh, yeah, it's great to have support like that.  I think maybe their memories are a little better than some other people.  They have a longer memory and know what I've done and know how hard I've worked and they follow what I'm doing.  It's great to have that kind of support, especially being close to home.  It's great to have it.

Q.  What does it mean for you then?  You got a chance to meet with them afterwards.  Sort of that interaction, is that a reminder that people, no matter what happens, still seem to believe in you?

MIKE WEIR:  Yeah, it's a reminder and an appreciation thing for me to take the time with them.  People like that are very supportive.  It's a humbling thing to have that, no question.  It's good to have people behind you, I'll say that.

Q.  We saw what your Masters victory did and any excitement it generated in our country.  We've seen what a Gold Medal has meant in hockey a couple times.  What do you think it would mean for a Canadian to win this tournament?  It's been so long, and we've got so many Canadians in the field and so many Canadians who can contend.  What do you think it would mean to our country and to golf in general, because we know that golf has struggled in recent years?  What do you think it would mean?  Would it get to the excitement level of a Gold Medal?  Are we getting to that point?

MIKE WEIR:  I don't know.  I think it would mean a lot to the individual who wins it.  I think golf is healthy in this country.  I think people enjoy playing.  We have a lot of talent, like I said.  Would it grow the game anymore?  I don't know if it would.  I'm not sure.

Yeah, I don't know.  It's hard to say, you know?  I'm not a good predictor of those things.  But I think it would be very big for the individual who did that, and maybe the confidence of maybe some of the younger guys maybe falling in behind if it happened to somebody to maybe inspire somebody to do some greater things.

Q.  Have you talked about it over the years?

MIKE WEIR:  Never talked about it with anybody, really.

Q.  So far so good with the weather here at the Abbey this week, which hasn't been the case for a number of years.  Not since 2004, in fact, when you were in the playoffs.  Just what is the key to playing this golf course if it stays firm and fast like it is now?

MIKE WEIR:  I think the rough is actually ‑‑ it doesn't look deep out there, but the ball is sitting down enough that it's going to cause some problems.  So I think getting in the fairway is really important, and the greens are firming up and getting a little faster.  So I think the key is just being in the fairway.

You can attack some of the pins from the fairways, and they're going to still receive a shot from the fairway, but out of the rough, it will be a little more difficult, so I think that's the key.

Q.  You prefer the golf course play tough than if there is a lot of rain and the greens softened up?  Is that better for your game or is it better for the tournament if the course shows its teeth a little bit?

MIKE WEIR:  I think all the way around.  I think it's better for the tournament; I think it's better for maybe someone who is really on top of their game to separate themselves because they're going to be able to control the ball and you have to shape the ball because the ball is not stopping if you don't hit the right line compared to if it's wet.  It's just going to plug and you're not going to see a shootout.  You'll see a real championship that might be in the single digits if it stays firm.  So I think for our National Championship, that would be great.

Q.  What is your relationship with this golf course now?  Is this a golf course that you like to play or a golf course that you learn to play?

MIKE WEIR:  I kind of like to play it now.  I do.  I enjoy it.  I think this year it's in great condition, so I really enjoy it now.  I've played it enough that I've figured out the lines and how I'm going to play each hole, and I feel pretty comfortable on the holes now where, for whatever reason, I didn't before.  So, yeah, I like playing it.

Q.  There is talk in 2017 the course you designed in Montreal could host the tournament.  What would it mean to have a golf course you designed host the tournament?

MIKE WEIR:  That would be really cool.  I hope it happens.  I'm proud of the golf course.  We had a grand opening in May there and came through the winter nicely, and a lot of the changes being made kind of came to fruition how I envisioned them happening, especially around the greens and the green complexes.

So to see it play kind of how Glen Abbey is playing right now, firm and fast, is how I envisioned it playing for a Canadian Open.  We'll see how the course would play.  That would be great.  I'd love to see it happen.