Ten days prior to his 51st birthday, Mike Weir gave himself a gift on Sunday – his first win at the PGA TOUR Champions. He celebrated, fittingly for a man who has re-learned to enjoy life in a different way in the last few years, with a nice glass of red wine.
Weir dueled with John Daly in the weather-shortened Insperity Invitational to earn his first trophy among the senior set. Tied with his fellow major champion at -10 through 17 holes, Weir’s winning margin came courtesy of Daly who dunked his approach to the 18th, leading to a double bogey.
However, there were no certainties for the Canadian who had to navigate the difficult, 442-yard, par-four finishing hole at TPC Woodlands in order to secure the title. He did so with a laser-like drive, an approach to 15 feet that evoked a first pump from the Bright’s Grove, Ontario golfer, and a conservative two-putt.
“I hit the right shots at the right time”, the 2003 Masters Champion shared after sealing the deal. It was his first victory on a PGA TOUR affiliated circuit since lifting the trophy at the 2007 Fry’s Electronics Open. That amounts to 236 starts between wins (195 PGA TOUR, 19 Korn Ferry Tour, 13 PGA TOUR Champions, 9 European Tour).
Since that time injuries largely took Weir out of contention at a professional level. After finishing the 2009 season ranked #36th in the world, the plummet afterward was abrupt. Once the #3 ranked player in the world in a career that brought him eight PGA TOUR Wins, by 2019 Weir was languishing below the #2000 mark.
With a re-commitment to the game as he approached eligibility for the Champions Tour in May, 2020, the signs of a re-birth were promising for Weir as he posted some quality rounds on the Korn Ferry Tour. Since joining the PGA TOUR Champions, he has managed to record six top-ten finishes in his first 14 starts, including two second-place finishes.
On Sunday, he upped that record, elevating himself to a win with spectacular approaches and timely shots.
Given a short time to reflect, Weir was introspective as he joined in a call with the Canadian media a short time after he left the final green.
At a time when some people might look to what they have done personally to get better, Weir deferred to those around him in giving credit for his current form.
“A lot of gratitude to a lot of people to get back to this point,” he shared as he ran through a list that included everyone from his girlfriend, Michelle Money, to many coaches he relies on for everything from his swing, to his fitness, to his mental game. It’s long been known that few work harder at their games.
“It was a tough battle out there, Weir commented on the win. “It was 36 holes (poor weather in the area reduced the event from 54 holes); it was kind of sprint but at the end though, it was still a tournament, where it comes down to the last few holes where you’re working hard to hit the shots at the right time. And I was able to do that. I was able to hit some really good shots coming down the stretch, so that feels great.”
The circumstances of the day aside, it was clear in Mike’s comments on Sunday that while having the chance to win at golf again was always his goal, it is now not the end-all, be-all in his world, and he thinks that has actually helped his performance.
“When you’re younger and you’re hungry on the PGA TOUR, and you’re coming up the ranks, you can be single-minded, at least I was. (At) this stage of the game we want to win but we want to have a good time and we want to enjoy those things with our loved ones. I think it just takes the pressure off. For me, I think that was in my head, ‘no matter what happens I’ve got a great women by my side, I’ve got great kids, I’m lucky enough to be healthy’. I think that gratitude maybe takes the edge off the old Mike Weir who was maybe too focused sometimes. I got in my own way sometimes, so I think that’s the difference.”
Through the high and lows, when he could have packed it in and left golf to enjoy the comforts he has earned with his past success, Weir says the fuel for his fire is something that makes him more like the average Canadian golfer versus a Canadian Golf hall of Fame member.
“I love the game…I loved the game too much to just go out there and play poorly all the time. I wanted to play well whether that was playing on the Champions Tour or just enjoying golf for the rest of my life. I wanted to play better than what I was doing, so that was the motivating factor for me.”
Based on what he showed the world, and himself on Sunday, mission accomplished
What remains to be seen is just how far this new approach will take Weir, and by all indications, there will be more happy Sundays ahead.
Celebratory red wine, and all.
With his victory Weir earned (USD) $337,500 and takes his earnings for the 2020-2021 season over the $1million mark.
Canada’s Stephen Ames was also competing in Texas. He tied for 20th.