The champion golfer of the year, as the British Open calls its winner, can relate to what Mike Weir is going through in this season of missed cuts. Ernie Els has been there himself.
“Mike’s a good friend of mine and it’s tough when you see a fair competitor going through a tough time in the game. We all go through that at some point in our career,” said Els.
“Mike’s been working very, very hard. People see that. I wish for him that the hard work will come through now and start showing on the golf course,” he added.
“Mike is a grinder, you know, and I know he’s working hard and I’d love for him to get back to where we know he can play, so hopefully, it happens this week,” said Els.
It might happen this week at the RBC Canadian Open, if somebody Jim Furyk ran into this week is right.
“I went to the grocery story yesterday and a guy wished me well in the tournament and in the very next sentence, he said, `but I think this is the event Mike Weir pulls out of it and wins,’” said Furyk.
“I said, `I’ll be honest with you. I hope you’re right. I think it would be great. It would be a great story.’ I wish him well and I know how hard a worker he is and I believe he’ll play better and start playing well again,” he added.
As much as he’d love to turn his season around at the Open, Weir understands that there probably won’t be any instant fixes, but he does feel the support that he gets not only from Canada, but around the PGA Tour.
“It’s great to get that kind of support, especially when times are tough. I get a ton of encouragement out there from marshals, not only this week, wherever I’m playing,” said the 2003 Masters champ.
“It’s heart-warming really to have that kind of support and people wishing you well and wanting you to come back and they see your work ethic and they know you’re digging hard and trying to get back,” said Weir.
“It doesn’t happen by osmosis. You’ve got to get out there and put the work in. Now, I’m able to do that,” said Weir, who is coming off elbow surgery last year.
“That’s kind of the process to get back, you know — just to get that workload up and start building some good habits again and start taking it to the course and, hopefully, start playing some better rounds of golf,” he added.
Alongside him as he works through the process is former PGA Tour player Grant Waite, who has been working with Weir as a coach for about three months.
“I guess Grant being a former player, I guess that’s one good thing. He knows a lot. He’s a very smart guy and he’s able to just relay what I need at the time and he knows that this is going to be a process,” said Weir.
“He’s not going to tell me to do 100 things right now. We try to nail one part and move on to the next and then keep going. There are some similarities of things I’ve done in the past and then, there are some different things he’s telling me to do,” he said.
“I think, being a player, he knows that he’s trying to keep some athleticism in my swing, or get some athleticism back in my swing again. That’s the biggest thing I’m trying to get back, kind of lost that when I was injured,” said Weir.
“I didn’t feel like I could hit the ground. You get tentative and now, trying to built that athleticism back up in my swing is kind of the best way to describe it really,” he added.
While it would be a bonus for Weir to play well in his national open, he’s using the tournaments he does play to evaluate what he and Waite are working on in practice.
“After Reno next week, I’ll have another good good stretch and reevaluate and see what broke down, what was good, take what was good and keep moving forward and throw some of the other things and keep moving forward,” said Weir.
“I’m really looking forward to next year. This is a three-month-into process with Grant and, if I play some great golf, that’s a bonus, but I’m taking the process, Grant’s my guy and if it happens now, that’s just a bonus, but I’m really looking down the road here,” he added.
“I believe in myself, bottom line, so I believe I’ll be back,” he said.