From AP REPORTS
(AP) — Mike Weir is uncomfortable with the notion that nationality is ultimately what put him in the Presidents Cup.
“I don’t think I’m there as a sentimental pick,” the Canadian said.
Deep down, however, he has to know he would have had little chance of being added to the International team if the tournament were being played in any country but his own.
International captain Gary Player and U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus said as much.
So did two of Weir’s teammates.
“Mike Weir is going to make the event better,” Australian Geoff Ogilvy said after Player completed the 12-man team by adding Weir and Nick O’Hern as captain’s picks. “Is he the 12th best player at the moment? Probably not. But he’s the one guy who can lift the whole event. How can you see that and then not have him on the team?”
But Weir dismisses that _ at least in his public comments.
“I know what I can do,” Weir said. “I haven’t been doing it, but I know what I can do, and I’ve been able to do it most of the time in the Presidents Cup.
“I’ve been able to play some good golf in there, and I think that’s what Gary saw. I don’t think he saw it as a sentimental pick. I think he saw from the last three what I can do and what I bring. At least that’s what he told me.”
Weir’s 2-1 singles record and 8-6 overall mark in three Presidents Cup appearances factored into Player’s decision to select the left-hander for the matches Sept. 27-30 at Royal Montreal. But nationality aside, that wasn’t enough to select a slumping player who finished 20th in the race for the 10 automatic spots. Not with the in-form Aaron Baddeley and Andres Romero well ahead of him, and Richard Green, Robert Allenby, Rod Pampling and Tim Clark also available.
“If we didn’t have a Canadian in my team and playing in Canada, I can assure you, the series would be quite flat among the Canadian people,” Player said in announcing his picks the day after the PGA Championship.
“Mike is a hero in his country, deservedly so.”
Nicklaus knew Player wasn’t about to sacrifice the home-crowd advantage and set himself up for a week of criticism from the Canadian fans and media.
“I think Gary politically thought it was the right thing to do,” Nicklaus said. “I think he either succumbed to that situation or came to that conclusion that he would like to have him anyway.”
It was obvious to teammate Adam Scott, too.
“Mike needed to be picked,” Scott said. “People understand that when they see a golf tournament in Canada. I think this will lift Mike as well. … The atmosphere will be great for our side because of Mike. That has to be taken into consideration.”
Weir, whose 2003 Masters victory and lobbying effort played a big role in Canada getting the event, was worried that Player would pick someone else, especially after the captain failed to call him immediately after the PGA.
“Absolutely,” Weir said. “I didn’t get a call Sunday night and I was wondering if he choose somebody else, which I would have been OK with. I would have understood if he would have picked somebody else, but I’m sure glad he picked me.”
Winless since the Nissan Open in February 2004, the 37-year-old Ontario native wasn’t even the top Canadian in the points race. Stephen Ames, a naturalized Canadian citizen from Trinidad & Tobago, was 16th — four spots ahead of Weir.
Ames could have earned a spot by finishing fourth in the PGA, but shot a 76 in a final-round pairing with winner TigerWoods at Southern Hills to drop from second to a tie for 12th. Player also could have selected Ames, but went with O’Hern, 11th in the standings and the only player to beat Woods twice in match play.
“I think he’d have had an even tougher choice if Stephen Ames had played a better round the last round of the PGA,” Nicklaus said. “I mean, he’s from Canada, but he’s not naturally born in Canada. Mike being sort of the hero-darling of Canada would be the guy that they wanted to have on the team if they could have him.”
Weir is a major star in Canada, complete with lucrative endorsement deals, his own clothing line and Tiger-like treatment at the Canadian Open.
The former BYU player drew attention across the country with his 1998 Q-school victory and really burst onto the scene when he was paired with Woods in the final round of the 1999 PGA. Weir struggled that day at Medinah, shooting an 80, but capped the year with a victory outside Vancouver in the Air Canada Championship.
Weir really got rolling with high-profile wins in the 2000 American Express Championship and 2001 Tour Championship, and guaranteed his place in Canadian golf lore with a brilliant early run in 2003, winning the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Nissan Open and Masters. He successfully defended his Nissan title in 2004, but suffered a major blow later that year when he lost a playoff to Vijay Singh in the Canadian Open.
Backed by a deafening crowd at Glen Abbey, Weir stood over three putts with a chance to win — a 10-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole, a 25-footer for eagle on the first playoff hole and a 5-footer for par on the second extra hole. He missed them all and ran out of chances on the third playoff hole, driving into the rough on the par-5 18th, laying up and hitting his approach into the water.
Weir briefly moved into outside contention for an automatic spot at Royal Montreal with consecutive eighth-place ties in the AT&T National and British Open, but struggled in the Canadian Open and withdrew from the Bridgestone Invitational because of neck pain. After missing the cut in the PGA and getting the nod from Player, he tied for 41st in The Barclays and ended his FedEx Cup playoff run with a 30th-place tie in the Deutsche Bank, a disappointing finish after opening rounds of 65 and 68.
The normally accurate Weir has struggled with his ball-striking, a key on Royal Montreal’s tree-lined Blue Course.
“It’s a course where you have to keep the ball in the fairway rather than a course where you can just bomb away,” said Weir, 92nd in the PGA Tour’s driving accuracy stats and a dismal 154th in greens hit in regulation.
He shot a 3-under 67 in a practice round at Royal Montreal the day before the start of the Deutsche Bank, his first round on the traditional layout since he tied for 34th in the 2001 Canadian Open.
“I just wanted to see it,” Weir said. “I wanted to see where the targets are and where the balls are ending up. The driving areas are better now. A few changes on the greens seem to be pretty good. It’s not going to be set up like a Canadian Open, with deep rough. They want some scoring. So, I think it’s going to be a good golf course.”
While Player may have done Weir a favor by picking him, it also put the Canadian star in position to fail in front of his adoring fans. He’s used to the pressure of playing for his country. “That’s there, but the Presidents Cup’s a little different because you’re playing with a partner as a team except for the last day,” Weir said. “But that’s there.”