Nearly 14 years removed from his last visit, former Masters champ Mike Weir hasn’t forgotten his favorite Winnipeg moments.
“Lots of good (memories), my Canadian Tour days,” Weir said this week in advance of his trip here Sunday and Monday for the fourth annual Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive For Kids. “I remember having too many beers with Davey McMillan, that’s one for sure.
“And I remember the golf courses being fun, Breezy Bend and Pine Ridge, that one with the crazy ninth hole.”
Not even a future major champion had every shot in Winnipeg turn out as planned. The last time he was here, he missed the cut at the 1996 Manitoba Open won by then-amateur Rob McMillan.
But the low point?
“Yeah, one bad memory, that I had a chance to win (the 1994 Open at Pine Ridge) and Scott Dunlap came from behind and nipped me and I made a few bogeys coming in,” Weir said. “I think I had a two-shot lead and I tried to drive that par-4 (the 13th) and I hit one in the trees right in front of the tee and made a double bogey.
“It was just such an immature, dumb move to try to do that at that stage of the tournament. I had the lead; I didn’t need to to that. It was a good learning experience from a dumb play. Not a fond memory, though.”
At Sunday night’s pre-game party and Monday’s action on St. Charles Country Club, Weir will help formulate some new memories.
Those figure to be nothing short of sensational, given that the Miracle Golf Drive For Kids has already generated $2 million for childrens’ health-care causes in Canada in just three years.
“There are so many great things about it,” Weir said about the previous events in London, Ont., Saskatoon and Halifax. “What I see from these children is that they have such great attitudes even despite the struggles they’re going through.
“They have incredible spirit and they’re just happy. That’s the thing that sticks with me when we do these events, visit the children’s hospitals.
“The parents? They’re so happy that I’m there and I’m more touched by the experience than they are for sure. That’s the wonderful thing about it.”
Weir showered praise on volunteers and organizers of his charity days.
“There are so many people with big hearts that give a lot of money and give a lot of time,” he said. “I have a lot of appreciation for the people that put on these events. I just show up and do the event but behind the scenes there is a lot of work that goes into them.”
On the PGA Tour for a 12th year, the member of the Order of Canada and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame continues to search for a new consistency. He has eight career victories, but none since 2007.
And that search continues right through a milestone birthday. He turned 40 three weeks ago.
“No, not a big deal at all,” Weir laughed. “I don’t even think about it. My wife threw a surprise party, had some friends up, about 15 guys (for) a guys’ weekend. Other than that, it’s just kind of blown by and I didn’t even think about it.”
His birthday was cause for some pundits to write him off. Earlier this season, a major publication’s online roundtable proclaimed he was washed up and wouldn’t win again.
“I didn’t see that but I don’t take any offence,” Weir said. “I haven’t been playing that well so I’m sure people are going to say that. It’s just part of the deal, being a professional athlete; you live with the good and bad.”
This season, he has posted just one top-10 in 12 tournaments and slipped down to No. 62 in the world golf rankings.
But his 2008 and 2009 were hardly poor. In those two years, Weir had 14 top-10s and was sixth and 29th in the final FedEx Cup standings. He won more than US$5 million in that period.
“Yeah, I did do everything but win the last couple of years,” Weir said. “I was close a few times. They were two of my better years, but I just didn’t get a W. That’s always the end goal. They were good years but not great years because I didn’t get a win.
“I’m still working towards that again.”