Jul
23
2010
Mike Weir Leaves Canada Dry…Again
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

While a bunch of relative unknowns are going low and breaking course records at the RBC Canadian Open, the nation’s Golden Boy Mike Weir struggled for the second day in a row, posting a four-over 74. His 36-hole total of six-over puts him near the bottom of the leaderboard at T143, missing the cut by eight shots.

Playing with tendinitis in his right arm, Weir refused to blame the errant drives and poor iron play on the injury. But clearly frustrated, when asked to elaborate on his troubles, he snapped, “It was pretty obvious. I didn’t play well. All aspects weren’t great.” Yikes!

Before Weir broke the hearts of the supportive crowds (again), his diminishing prowess was spotlighted by Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun with a sensational headline on the front page, “Is Weir Washed Up?” Buffery provides statistical evidence to back his case:

He is currently ranked 118th on the PGA Tour money list. He has posted one top-10 finish this season — a sixth at the Bob Hope Classic — and has missed the cut five times, including last week’s British Open. His last win on the Tour was in 2007 at the Fry’s Electronic Open.

Pretty well every major scoring stat reveals that Weir’s game is heading south. His average score this season is 71.58 — 144th on the Tour. Last year his average score was 70.23, 29th, and in 2003, the year he won the Masters as well as the Nissan Open and Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, his 68.97 average was the third best in the PGA.

Weir was never one of the big drivers in golf, but in his heyday, he was at least middle of the pack in that regard. In 2003, he drove for an average of 289.2 yards (68th). The past three seasons, those numbers have dropped consistently; 284.8 yards in 2008 (119th overall), 279.3 yards in 2009 (163rd) and 274 yards this season (174th).

In his prime, Weir was one of the top golfers in terms of overall number of birdies. In 2003, he averaged 4.03 per round, 14th best on the Tour. In 2009, that number dropped to 3.54 (93rd) and this year 3.30 (127th).

Such a brazen question triggered zealous outrage by Weirsy Nation.

But what those numbers more accurately reveal is that 2003 was a career year for Weir — when he won three tournaments, including The Masters, which made him the first Canadian male to win a professional major championship. Basically, Buffery is saying that since then — notwithstanding an event or two — it’s all been downhill for Weir.

Although he hasn’t won in three years, he’s still been a consistent name on the leaderboard. But it’s fair to say Weir is having a rough year — his world ranking has plummeted to 82nd from 36th at the end of last season. This isn’t to say Weir doesn’t have another shot at glory just because he’s 40 and totally over the hill. See Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Steve Stricker, Vijay Singh and Kenny Perry, for examples to the contrary.

Fret not, Canada, there’s still plenty of time for the Great Northern Hope to capture a title at his nation’s championship. But the trusty fans already know that. And if he doesn’t, good news! — there’s always Stephen Ames and the young crop of Canadians coming up the ranks, like Graham DeLaet and 22-year-old Nick Taylor, who is expected to turn pro soon, not to mention the lesser-known Adam Hadwin who is currently the low Canadian at six-under  — surely, one of them wouldn’t mind bearing the huge expectations of a country on their shoulders.

[Photo by Mike Cassese/Reuters]