October 21, 2007 I mocked President’s Cup Captain Gary Player for insinuating that the match everyone wanted to see on Sunday in the singles matches was Canadian Mike Weir battling world number one Tiger Woods in Weir’s home nation. Everyone – really – wanted to see a match other than that, probably with Woods’ opponent being a resurgent Ernie Els or the loudmouth Rory Sabbatini. We got Woods-Weir, though.
It turned out to be a great match. Even more surprising than the entertainment value of the match, Mike Weir was victorious after earning a huge lead, surrendering it, and then taking it back dramatically on the final two holes. Player, who has a tendency for the occasional hyperbole, said that the win could very well “change Mike’s life.” A lot of people rolled their eyes at that remark especially considering that Weir had already won the Masters.
Despite the hyperbole, though, it was widely recognized that Weir could actually make use of the win over Woods to serve as a reminder of just how talented he is. It was a quick turnaround for Weir to actually use that confidence in a golf tournament.
Weir never led at any point in the first three rounds of this week’s Fry’s Electronics Open in Scottsdale. In the final round, though, he gathered his game together well enough to fire a two-under 68. With a six foot par putt at the last, he secured his first tour win in over 80 starts.
Who could have guessed that it would have taken just 2 starts to take the confidence from the victory over Woods and turn it into a transformation of his career?
Weir has been a student of the Stack and Tilt swing methodology and had been struggling with it in the past few months. Until the President’s Cup, Weir had not seen inside of the top 30 in his last five PGA Tour starts – even after showing some signs of progress with a T8 at the Open Championship. It seemed like the progress Weir had made was short lived because other than the AT&T National and the Open in back to back weeks, the Canadian had not finished better than a tie for 19th all season.
It only stands to reason, then, that the combination of a small tip for Captain Player and the overwhelming confidence from beating Tiger Woods in the President’s Cup were what got Weir going. He placed in the top 10 last week at the Fry’s.com Open. The momentum from that probably helped him on Sunday in Scottsdale. I don’t think it stands to reason that Weir just a thing for Fry’s Electronics – even for as much as the Tour probably would not mind that.
Would Weir have won again without beating Tiger Woods at the President’s Cup? He probably would have. Do not confuse yourself. Mike Weir is a very good golfer, a smart guy, and would have eventually pieced it all together and won again. The President’s Cup definitely did quicken the process, though. Weir said as much this week, saying of the win over Woods, “It maybe got me over the hump as far as confidence that when it really hits the fan, I can get it done.”
Maybe there is value in the President’s Cup then. For the Americans, it appeared to be an opportunity to relax a little bit and actually enjoy the experience of playing for their country. It is a stark contrast to the Ryder Cup which is as intense of a golf experience as a professional will ever face. The pressure is huge.
Despite the more laid back demeanor for the Americans, it almost certainly was not that way for Weir. His country was hosting a significant golf event and he was the only man who seemed to be trying to defend Canada and the Internationals’ honor throughout the competition. In taking respect from Tiger Woods for his team in the Sunday singles, Weir managed to gain a whole lot more. He got his career back.