AUGUSTA, Ga. — Seventeen years ago, Mike Weir made history. This weekend, he’s trying to do it again.
In 2003, Weir emerged victorious at Augusta National, becoming the first (and so far, only) Canadian to win a Masters title. It wasn’t easy for the Sarnia, Ontario, native that year, as he finished 72 holes tied with American Len Mattiace at 7-under 281. Weir subsequently defeated Mattiace in a playoff.
Weir owns a total of eight PGA Tour wins in a career on the big circuit that dates back to 1998. Three of those wins, including his Masters triumph, came in a playoff. The 50-year old has represented Canada on five Presidents Cup squads. He has played nine times on the PGA Tour Champions in 2020 and had two top-5 finishes.
If Weir is going to capture his second Masters title, he’ll have to overcome an ultra-deep field that includes World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, icons Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and a battery of other stars including Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa.
The Canadian got off to a decent start, carding three birdies (including back-to-back on Nos. 6 and 7) against just one bogey through the first 16 holes. However, a second bogey on the par-4 17th dropped him to an opening round 71, just one under par.
As we all know, “decent” is not going to cut it at Augusta National, and Weir finds himself T-34.
“I would say it was a good round,” Weir said. “I didn’t really capitalize on a lot of things. I missed a really short putt on 2, had some good looks and didn’t quite get them in. But all in all, it was a nice solid start to the tournament.”
Weir did recognize that his short game needs improvement, especially his putting. He had 31 putts on the day and hopes to get that number down to the mid-20s. He also noticed the conspicuous lack of fans and patrons.
“Yeah, it kind of feels like a round with your friends,” Weir admitted. “It does. You still have the tournament — you know it’s a tournament and you have the tournament energy, but it’s a completely different feel. Hopefully in April they’ll be able to get back. But it’s still nice playing with two great guys, and they battled and hung in there well.”
Weir played alongside Englishman Matt Wallace and Spaniard Rafael Cabrera Bello. Wallace had the most successful Thursday of the trio, as he is T-13 at 3-under 69. Meanwhile, Bello finds himself behind the eight ball at 1-over 73 and T-64.
Weir knows what he needs to do to battle up the leaderboard come Friday.
“I have to continue to hit fairways, and on the long holes I’ve got to try to get to the center of the green and try to find a way to make par.
“And then when I’ve got a wedge in my hand on the par‑5s and 3 and things like that, I have to be very aggressive with those shots and try to make birdie on those holes.”