It’s inevitable that anytime a gathering is held to discuss a PGA Tour event, the T-word will be used and so it was that Mike Weir was asked yesterday about the availability of Tiger Woods for this year’s RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey.
“He doesn’t talk much about his schedule,” said Weir, whose five-year-old charitable foundation was named the official charity of the tournament, a move that will also include the launch of the Mike Weir Charity Classic at this year’s Open.
“I have no idea what his plans are as far as the event this year. Obviously, with his knee, you have to plan for everything – how many tournaments he wants to play in a row, what’s he going to play,” said Weir.
With that out of the way, the conversation returned to the point of the press conference, that being the charitable side and how the Mike Weir Charity Classic to be played on Monday, July 20, is another step forward for the Open after years of seemingly sliding into oblivion.
“It’s not going to switch overnight from being in the middle to being the best,” said Weir. “It’s like anything. It’s got to grow with time. It’s only the second year, so we’re seeing great improvements.”
Whether the Weir Charity Classic will make the Open Tiger-worthy this year remains to be seen, but it should cause quite a stir as the tournament draws near.
Already, Canadian NBA star Steve Nash has signed up to play as have a bunch of high-profile tour players (see News Now for more details on the names). Also, corporations have bought into the concept, which is about half sold out right now.
“I think we’ve really found a great, fun concept that will bring some of the best guys on the tour together with some of the great celebrities for such a great cause,” said Weir, who says the Open does come up more often in discussions with other players these days.
“I think it’s getting easier to sell (the Open’s) message to the players,” he said. “I’m not out there telling guys to come up and play. It’s more the guys are coming up to me.”
What a difference from two years ago when the Open seemed to be on its last legs, with no title sponsor and brutal dates right after the British Open.
Weir says the Open’s rising fortunes are the result of various factors, including tournament sites at traditional courses such as the Hamilton Golf and Country Club and the fact that the RCGA charters a plane back to Canada right after the British Open.
The charitable side of the tournament and the Mike Weir Charity Classic should take it farther up the ladder on the PGA Tour. Of course, the standing of a golf tournament with RBC’s name on it is relative to that bank’s lofty status in the financial world these days.
“If it weren’t for these guys and RBC’s leadership, the Open may not even exist at all and especially not to the extent of where it is now,” said Weir.
Where it is now is still with those brutal dates, but starting to draw higher profile players back to Canada. “I think the date is actually panning out pretty well. We’re not losing any players with the dates. That’s a good thing,” said Weir.
According to RCGA executive director Scott Simmons, the date change will come naturally if the tournament stays on its current path, especially in this economy.
“It’s not No. 1 on our priority list to look for a new date,” said Simmons. “We’re not waiting for another date to make this event better.
“There’s so much uncertainty our there right now with what’s going on with the economy and only time will tell the impact that that will have on the PGA Tour and its schedule,” he added.
Still, a change in dates would certainly help the tournament’s fortunes, but in the meantime, the RCGA and RBC are making all the right moves in elevating the Open in the PGA Tour’s pecking order.
If it isn’t Tiger-worth just yet, it would seem to be getting close.