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PGA TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 27, 2013
LAURA HILL:¬† This is Laura from the PGA TOUR communications department.¬† I'd like to thank all the media for calling in today.¬† As everyone is aware this year's Masters marks the 10th anniversary of Mike Weir's win in 2003, where he became the first Canadian‑born player to win a major as well as the first left‑handed golfer to win the Masters.¬† Just as a side note, to commemorate Mike's win, there's a 30‑minute documentary airing in Canada on Wednesday of Masters week called "Four Days in April:¬† The Mike Weir Story," and the program's pre‑promotion says that it will relive Mike's dramatic journey to the putt that clinched the green jacket and changed his life and career forever.
With that setup, I know it's probably hard in a couple sentences to encapsulate looking back on the past 10 years to that victory, but maybe just reflect a bit and give us some general opening comments.
MIKE WEIR:¬† Sure.¬† I'll do my best.¬† You know, it is hard to believe it's been 10 years, and obviously it was a thrill of my golfing career to win a Augusta National.¬† It's probably the one major I thought I'd probably have the hardest time with.¬† I thought maybe a U.S. Open or British Open might be kind of more up my sleeve you would say.
But that year in 2003 I was so confident in playing well that it seemed like any golf course I was going to play well on.¬† You know, to win that tournament has been such a thrill.¬† I was there just a couple of weeks ago, and I guess this being brought to my attention, this 10 years, is going back there a couple weeks ago, I kind of relived some of the shots maybe a little more than what I normally would, and looking forward to getting back there hopefully in a couple weeks.¬† I guess it's a couple weeks away.¬† The reason I say hopefully is because I've been battling a little setback with a rib injury last week, but I feel good that I'll hopefully be ready by then.
So that's it in a nutshell so far.
LAURA HILL:¬† As you mentioned with the rib injury, you withdrew from Arnold Palmer invitational and from Shell Houston Open this week.¬† Is there a formal diagnosis that you want to update us on?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, it is, it's the doc who looked at it says it's most likely cartilage between the ribs that's torn or inflamed, whatever you want it term it really.¬† It didn't show up on X‑rays.¬† He was looking more if I cracked a rib or something like that, and there was nothing like that.¬† Basically when you have some cartilage injury in between the ribs there, it's nothing but rest, some anti‑inflammatory a little bit to get the swelling down, but other than that it's rest.¬† The tough thing is it's a very re‑injurable spot given the nature of our sport and the turn and how you engage your abdominal muscles and rotate your rib cage.¬† It's a touchy thing.¬† So I've got to be smart about this and be patient here in the next few days.
I'm feeling a little better today but probably not going to try hitting any until maybe Saturday or Sunday, just keep them there if it's too sore and then I'll have to take some more days off, so we'll see what happens.
Q.¬† Two questions for you:¬† One, when you look back at '03, what do you consider the most important or maybe the most memorable shot you struck?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, I mean, I'm going to say that putt on 18.¬† But there were so many during the week.¬† But I'd have to say the putt, obviously.¬† That's the most memorable and the one that sticks out obviously.¬† It had a kind of finality to it.¬† Either I make it and it's over, I make it and we move on, or I miss it and the tournament is over.¬† That one really stands out in my mind.
But there was a lot of key up‑and‑downs during the week.¬† Actually the very first hole of the tournament I hit it over the back of the green to the back pin on left and chipped down to about 40 feet and made that putt right out of the gate, about a 40‑footer on the very first hole of the tournament, and that kind of sticks in my mind, too.
Q.¬† This is more of a broad question, but I'm curious about you going into the Masters and maybe how it relates to this year.¬† You'd won Hope and Riviera, I think; is that right?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Yes.
Q.¬† You'd won twice and were still somewhat under the radar, Tiger being Tiger had won three times that year.¬† Can you talk about your form going in and despite having won twice and a couple other top 10s if you felt anyone took you seriously that week?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Yeah, my form was very good, and I felt great.¬† It was actually a bit of a wake‑up call, the week before I missed the cut in Atlanta.¬† I felt like I kind of played undisciplined golf there.¬† I remember missing the cut and just having a little talk with myself, and the reason I had played so well earlier in the year is just because I was striking the ball very well, but I played kind of my game which is disciplined golf, on the smart side of the hole all the time, taking advantage of the wedge, not taking unnecessary risks and playing a strategic game like Jack Nicklaus kind of.¬† I kind of got away from that at Atlanta the week before and really got me refocused for Augusta.
And yeah, I did feel under the radar, even though I felt like I was one of the favorites in my own mind.¬† I think maybe because of the rain and how long the course was playing and obviously given the history of the tournament after they made the changes that a lot of the longer players were guys that were in contention.¬† It kind of worked to my favor a little bit even though I was under the radar.¬† I didn't feel that way.
Q.¬† There was talk a couple weeks ago when Luke went to No.1 in the world that it was almost inspiration to the medium length hitters that you don't have to be a bomber to get that high in the rankings.¬† Do you see any correlation with any type of example you set at Augusta, that there's more than one way to win a green jacket?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Possibly, but I look to guys like Jos√© Mar√≠a, I don't think Mark O'Meara was a very long player, guys like that that were really precision players and really relied on creativity around the greens and the short game and just having a cool head under pressure.¬† I think all those little intangibles sometimes can get overlooked besides just power.¬† Obviously power helps on a big golf course like that, but there's other intangibles when it comes to major championships are sometimes more important.
A guy like Luke, yeah, it's great to see a guy that's a similar length player to myself got to No.1.¬† I thought that was pretty cool.
Q.¬† Everybody of course is looking back here at the Masters and you winning it 10 years ago, and I know you're the kind of guy who looks forward more than backward and weren't even thinking that much about the 10‑year anniversary until it started to be mentioned to you.¬† I am wondering in your current struggles and what you've been going through if perhaps you can look back to 10, 12 years ago and the struggles you went through even to get to that point and to winning the Masters and the other tournaments you were winning and if there's anything you can draw from those many years ago to what you're going through now.
MIKE WEIR:¬† I think I can.¬† I can relate to some of those struggles, and even earlier in my career when I was struggling on the Canadian Tour and playing overseas and trying to make it work in professional golf, just keeping, chipping away at trying to get better and trying to figure out a way to get better, kind of going through that now a little bit.
There's really no‑‑ there's no evidence on paper what I've shown that I can be in contention there except that I believe that I can in my own mind, and I think that's been my strongest asset of my career is that I have belief in myself, and even though it doesn't look like it from the scores and the way I've been playing, I just feel like I'm going to find a way to get it done.¬† That's what it was like, I told you that story many times when I was on the Canadian Tour and walking up on the range and the only spot available was a spot right beside Nick Price and I started hitting balls beside him and I watched these lasers going right at the pin, and I thought to myself right then, wow, if I have to beat a player like this I have some work to do.¬† This was in the early '90s.¬† And I just wasn't about trying to find a way to make things more consistent, and that's really what I'm doing now, just trying to find a way to get back to finding a consistent game that I can play my kind of game, which is precision golf, which I haven't been able to do.
I haven't found that yet.¬† Even though it is getting a little bit better, it's still not where I need to be, so I'll just keep working at it.
Q.¬† You played exceptionally well that day, no bogeys and the playoff.¬† Len was one putt away from shooting a 64 in the final round to win the Masters, and I know you weren't playing together, but in watching maybe replays and stuff like that, any particular comment on how Len played that day and how tough it is to‑‑ is it tough to win a tournament and see how much disappointment is in the other guy in a playoff?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, absolutely.¬† I mean, I obviously have seen the video and I've seen a lot of highlights of his round.¬† He played an incredible round of golf, and when you play an incredible round of golf, great things happen.¬† That shot he holed on No.8 from over to the left of the green, big long putt on 10 and those kind of things.¬† But that happens when you shoot a low round, especially at Augusta National.
For myself, I always felt like the way that tournament played out, I was the player in control of that tournament from day one.¬† I was leading right off the bat.¬† I was in control of that tournament, and that's the mentality I took into the Sunday round is that I've been in control of this tournament.¬† I've been the one near the lead and having to hold the lead the whole week, and Len was out in front and played a great final round, but I still felt like I was the one in control of that tournament.
Next part of your question, yeah, I've been there myself.¬† I was there in 2004 when I lost a playoff to Vijay Singh in a tournament that holds almost as much importance to me as a major championship, the Canadian Open.
You know, it's tough.¬† It's tough when you're right there and you can taste it and you don't pull it off.¬† It's a tough thing, and I felt for Len, and he's a great guy, and he's dealt with some injuries himself the last few years.¬† I know I felt for him that day, as well, even given the celebration of the moment for me, I still felt for him that day.
Q.¬† And just curious, you said you went back and tried to recreate.¬† How many times since 2003 have you dropped a putt at that spot on 18 in regulation, and for the average halfway decent TOUR putter, how many times out of 50 or so does he make that putt?
MIKE WEIR:¬† How many times does the average TOUR player make that putt?
Q.¬† Yeah, how tough was it?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, on a regular day, a Thursday morning on the 18th hole, an eight‑footer straight up the hill, you're going to make quite a few of them.¬† But a do or die putt at a major championship, win or lose, you'd be my guess in guessing how many guys are going to make that putt.¬† I don't think a whole lot.
It was a big moment, so to be able to step up there and do that is‑‑ I was proud to be able to do that.
Q.¬† And in practice rounds do you drop one there and hit one a lot?
MIKE WEIR:¬† That pin position is one that I haven't seen since.¬† It was not a back right pin.¬† It wasn't the traditional front left one.¬† It was kind of just on top of the tier, 15 feet or so on top of the tier to the right, which I haven't seen a win there since, so I haven't really hit in putts to that hole ever since.¬† I put a tee there and showed a few guys when I'd played some practice rounds and this is where the pin was Sunday and this is about how far I was.¬† But I don't think even in the tournament the cup has been there again.¬† It was just a different pin placement than they had ever used before.
Q.¬† Just wondering if you could reflect on the support that you've received from fans here in Sarnia over the years.
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, yeah, I have tremendous support and a lot of great friends from Sarnia.¬† I still get back there in the summer to visit my family and my parents.¬† I've said this all along, it's a great sports town, and we're very supportive of all our athletes that have come from Sarnia.¬† I've felt that over the years, that the support I've had in Sarnia has been great.¬† I had my Hall of Fame ‑‑ Canadian Golf Hall of Fame dinner at Huron Elks a couple years ago and that was really cool to see a bunch of old friends and coaches and high school teachers.¬† That's just kind of the way our community is.¬† It's been wonderful to have that kind of support.
Q.¬† Can you just tell me about how Augusta sets up for left‑handers?¬† Since you won it, Phil has won it, Bubba has won it.¬† Is it any easier now after all the changes or why would you say there's been so much more success for left‑handers than before you won?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, those two guys are a little different player than me.¬† They're very long, so obviously that's helpful.¬† But I think there is some value in being able to fade the ball off a lot of those holes for us, being left‑handers, and a number of examples, especially on the back nine, 10, 13, 14, 17, all those holes if you can get the ball working right to left is a big advantage.¬† And sometimes it's a little easier to control a fade.¬† So there might be some value in that is why we've done a little better.¬† But I think those two other lefties they probably handle the par‑5s pretty well with their length.¬† I think that's another thing for them.
Q.¬† Can you just give me an idea of a lot has been said about how much a player's life changes after winning a major.¬† If you look back on the 10 years, can you put it into a capsule for us, what changes happened to you because of that victory?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, the changes in my life you mean?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Yeah.¬† I guess the real big change really was the, I guess, right after I won was the attention.¬† I would say I'm a fairly understated guy, and I was a little taken aback by the attention, I guess, at the start.¬† That was a little bit tough to get used to.
But other than that, I don't think my lifestyle didn't really change a whole lot, there was more people after my time.¬† That took a little bit of management.¬† But I didn't really‑‑ I played a couple tournaments overseas, but not right away.¬† In the mid 2000s I went and played a couple things.¬† But other than that, I didn't go around the world playing every I was invited to for money all over the place.¬† I wanted to stay focused on the TOUR and keep trying to improve my game.¬† I didn't want to be distracted by all of that.
It wasn't a huge change except for maybe my being under the radar a little more, which I've always kind of liked, and other than that, it wasn't a huge change.
Q.¬† Because you had already won five sometimes before Augusta in 2003, and so you already were a proven winner on the TOUR.¬† Does the major championship really validate a player in his own mind when that happens?
MIKE WEIR:¬† I think, yeah, probably‑‑ probably amongst the players, too, but I think for myself in my own mind, that was kind of the next step.¬† I had won some nice tournaments, a World Golf Championship and a TOUR Championship and contended in some majors, U.S. Opens and things, but hadn't got the job done.¬† So to win that was huge in my own mind.
Now, there's been great players that haven't won majors, and they're still great players, but for myself I really wanted to win one.
Q.¬† Speaking of great players who haven't won, they always say he's the best player who hasn't won a major.¬† Is that really being fair to the player?
MIKE WEIR:¬† I think‑‑ I guess in some regard it's not, but it is an individual sport.¬† I think maybe more so in team sports when you're trying to win a ring or a cup, maybe that's a little more unfair because there's more of a team factor that you can't control if you don't win a championship, whereas as a golfer, tennis player, anybody that's all under their own control.¬† So I guess the term great is a term used maybe only for a select few, so maybe you could say he's been a very good player.¬† Maybe for an individual sport like that, you do have to prove yourself a little bit more.
Q.¬† Can you bring us up to speed on Laval‑sur‑le‑Lac and renovations there that you've done and with the talk that in 2017 we might see the PGA coming there with the Canadian Open, what that would mean for you?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Yeah, we'll see how the‑‑ hopefully‑‑ I haven't been up there in a while.¬† I don't know how much snow is up there.
Q.¬† There's still a lot.
MIKE WEIR:¬† Still a lot, so we'll see once all that melts away how it made it through the winter, but I'm excited to see the course and the changes and be up there in May to kick off the grand opening of the course.¬† So yeah, I'm excited.¬† There hasn't been a lot of talk for 2017.¬† We've had some discussions but not much lately.¬† But the course will need some maturity before we host a Canadian Open or something like that.
But I think it's going to be a very good golf course for the members.¬† I think it has the potential to be very challenging with Luke and his staff, they can get the agronomy right and make it very difficult around the greens.¬† I think that's the defense of the golf course, but it's a very playable golf course for everybody and that's what Ian and I wanted to focus on is making it fun for everybody and a challenge for everybody.¬† I'm excited to see how it turns out.
Q.¬† I'm wondering if in the months and years that followed Augusta if having won that, that major, or having prevailed at Augusta helped you mentally or helped you do something on the golf course that you thought maybe otherwise you wouldn't have been able to do.
MIKE WEIR: ¬†Well, I guess the flashback to that previous question about how many guys are going to be able to make that putt on the last hole of a major championship like that, when you get people to do something like that, it does give you confidence that you can do it again, but it doesn't mean you're going to do it, but you have confidence feeling like you can do it, and until you can pull off something like that, you're just guessing.
So yeah, I guess my confidence was‑‑ it was pretty high going in there, but I guess it probably went up a notch, ratcheted up a notch after that, as well.
Q.¬† I guess everybody saw the shot that Bubba Watson hit, the left‑handed hook from the trees in the playoff last year.¬† I'm just curious from a left‑hander's perspective, is that an easier shot for a left‑hander?¬† Would a right‑hander have been able to fade it the way he was able to hook it, and is that an easier shot to pull off under pressure?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, first off, I think as a lefty, to be able to hit a hard hook you can‑‑ yeah, you can get a little more on it than you can a hard fade, though as a lefty I'm not saying it's an easy shot, I don't want to discredit that shot he hit at all, but it is a little easier for a left‑hander, especially given the speed he can produce.¬† The more speed you can produce when you're hitting a hook, the more it'll hook.
But yeah, it's still a difficult shot but probably easier for a left‑hander than a right‑hander trying to slice it that far and still get the distance to get it up there.
Q.¬† When you saw that, probably on replays everybody has seen it, I guess, did you kind of put yourself in that position as a left‑hander and say, okay, this is how I would execute that shot if it were my shot to hit?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Yeah, I mean, watching that from that camera angle from down the line, that's the option he had is to hit a hard hook.¬† Now, I don't know if I could get that much hook on it because of the power I can produce compared to what he can produce.¬† He can take a less lofted club, I'm not sure what he hit there, 9‑, 8‑iron, wedge, that he put it in and hooked it.¬† He can obviously get the height and the speed on it to spin it, turn it that much.¬† For me I don't know if I could get that height and that much turn on it to get it all the way up like he could.¬† That's just a product of power that certain players can hit shots like that because they have the speed.¬† There's only a few guys on TOUR that can produce that kind of speed.
For myself I could probably‑‑ I could probably hook it and get it to run all the way up there, but to fly it all the way up there with spin, probably not in my wheelhouse.
Q.¬† You mentioned earlier about how Augusta National now sets up for left‑handers as opposed to right‑handers.¬† The shot that everybody used to say you had to have to win the Masters was a draw for a right‑hander.¬† Is it now the equivalent of a left‑hand fade for you guys, for the lefties, and is that an easier shot to pull off?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, I think that's right.¬† I mean, for us left‑handers we do need to be able to fade the ball there at Augusta National, and I think it all depends on the player.¬† If that's your natural shot, a fade, you might feel more comfortable with that, and if you ask Tom Lehman, that draw shot is pretty easy for him.
It just all depends on the player, what your comfort level is with the shot shape.¬† I think for certain players maybe a draw is maybe a little more difficult, and for others it's not.
Q.¬† Being the first left‑handers to do it, and it's been five times in the last 10 Masters counting yours have been won by left‑handers.¬† Do you feel like what you did removed a psychological barrier for left‑handers?
MIKE WEIR:¬† I'm not sure.¬† I think if you're going to ask Phil, I think he felt pretty confident around there.¬† He'd been knocking on the door and been, I think, third three years in a row before he won in 2004.¬† I don't think it was a confidence thing amongst us lefties, until Bubba was there I think Phil and I, he flush played a couple of times.¬† The odds weren't in our favor because there was only a couple of us playing.
I never felt like anything, like a left‑hander or right‑hander could do.¬† I don't think that was a barrier to break down really.
Q.¬† As you've talked about your career today, there was about a four‑year period there that included '03 when you were really one of the game's elite players.¬† I don't mean this negatively, but in a sense do you look back at 10 years and think about the injuries and everything and wonder why you kind of weren't allowed to win on that trajectory?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, I'll say this:¬† My wife is always saying that things happen for a reason.¬† Now, when you hit a tree root at Hilton Head in 2010 and that pretty much set me back here for a couple years, I tried to ask myself that question and really couldn't come up with an answer.¬† So I'm not sure if I agree with her on that.
But at the same time it's allowed me‑‑ I've pushed so hard in my career since I turned professional in 1992 right out of college, golf can be a very selfish game where you spend a lot of time away from your family, a lot of time by yourself working hard on your game and missing out on a lot of things.¬† Maybe this was a way to slow me down and enjoy my family, which I've been able to do a lot in the last few years.¬† It's been disappointing career‑wise not to play how I played, but I haven't let it affect my life and my‑‑ the way I look at life.¬† I haven't looked at it as like why me because there's a lot‑‑ I just see a bigger perspective with a lot of different things, my foundation and things, that this is a small thing.¬† Sure, it's affected my career, but I feel healthy now except for a few little setbacks I'm having, but I feel like I can still play some good golf going forward, it's just kind of part of the ride of life.¬† We have ups and downs, and that's just kind of part of it.¬† It's been disappointing, though, that I haven't, but at the same time I've enjoyed a lot of other things, aspects of my life the last couple years.
Q.¬† Can you just talk about your injuries the last couple years?¬† Have you gone into the Masters healthy in either 2011 or 2012?
MIKE WEIR:¬† (Laughing) No.¬† It's been a few years.¬† This last weekend was very frustrating.¬† I was pretty upset about that, because it happened Thursday night actually after my round, and I was able to play through it Friday, even though it was quite uncomfortable Friday, but Saturday it became unplayable and restrictive where I couldn't even turn.
So it was frustrating.¬† I wanted to play obviously Arnold's tournament.¬† I have such respect for Mr.Palmer and hated to pull out of there, and then having to pull out of Houston this week, I wanted that prep time and rounds under my belt leading into Augusta.
Yeah, it's been a few years since I've gone in healthy.¬† Hopefully by the Masters I'll be all right.
Q.¬† Athletes talk all the time about they're feeling 70 percent or 80 percent.¬† What percentage would you have to be health wise for you to not go to the Masters given how much the tournament means to you?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, I don't know.¬† I mean, I'm going to be going no matter what.¬† I'm going to be there.¬† So that's why I've got to be really smart the next week and a half here about when I decide to try hitting a few balls and see how it is, and then if I feel anything to back off and just go there to Augusta.¬† If I have to not hit any balls until Thursday, I won't, and just maybe putt a little bit, because I really want to play.
Yeah, it would be‑‑ I don't know if I can put a percentage on it at all.¬† I know I'm going to be there.
Q.¬† Outside of the tournament, what's your favorite part about returning every year?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, two things.¬† I think getting together with all my friends, we have dinners every night at my buddy's and my brother's house that they rent, my old pro Steve Bennett from back in Sarnia is the chef of the week, and he cooks up great meals every night, and catching up with all my friends, and then obviously the Tuesday night champions' dinner is a thrill.¬† I think those two things really stand out in my mind.
Q.¬† Can you talk about the playoff hole at No.10?¬† Could you take us back to that and how you felt about the 10th hole and what it was like to have two putts from six feet to win?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Yeah, you know, the playoff hole I think‑‑ I probably had a little bit of an advantage because by the time I signed my card we were right over the 10th tee where Len had to wait a little while, although he had a nice tee shot down there.
But I think maybe a little underestimated aspect of my game that week was my driving.¬† I didn't hit a ton of greens that week, but I hit a really high percentage of fairways and been talking about that fade in this call quite a bit, but I was fading the ball really well all week.¬† That 10th hole I had hit it right in the middle of the fairway all four times previous, so obviously I had a great visual on that hole about the tee shot, and I hit another one, and I hit another really solid 7‑iron that actually caught a little puff of wind.¬† I thought the 7‑iron I struck, I hit it about as well as I could, and I thought it was really going to get back to that back portion of the green, and just caught enough of a little breeze that the ball got knocked down a little bit.
But yeah, to have whatever length putt I had there for par, just to have to cozy it up there and tap in was a pretty cool feeling.
Q.¬† Speaking specifically on this year's Masters, what's your big picture view heading in, given Tiger's recent dominance?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Yeah, obviously he's got to be the favorite going in there.¬† You know, he's showing signs, especially of short game, and I think that's the aspect of your game that you have to have around there.¬† I don't care how good you hit the ball.¬† You have to putt well there.
So yeah, he has to be the favorite going in there.¬† It's such an open tournament now that there's so many great players in the world, and the separation between everybody is so close, even though as well as Tiger has played this year, I think he knows that there's so many players with power now.¬† So it'll be interesting to see what the drama brings because there always will be, and I think there will be a lot of guys in the mix come Sunday afternoon.¬† I just think it'll be a tight tournament this year.
Q.¬† It appears that for the third time he's been able to make some pretty significant swing changes and succeed.¬† In your particular circumstance, do you regret the swing changes that you've made over the last 10 years?
MIKE WEIR:¬† No, not one bit.¬† I mean, they're necessary, and I think when you get stale with something and if things aren't working again, you look to improve on them.¬† All the great players in the history of the game are always tinkering.¬† You can look at Ben Hogan and his swing, he was always still working on things to improve it, to refine it, to make it better, and that's what we do as golfers.¬† We're always in the laboratory a little bit trying to figure things out and make it better.
No, I mean, what Tiger has done with his game and the few changes over the years just shows the testament to his mental fortitude and his athletic ability to be able to implement those changes and make them work and own them under competition, because a lot of things work on the range, but they don't work on the golf course.
That's the thing, you've got to find what works on the golf course, and it seems like he's finding that now.
Q.¬† From being involved in this documentary, anything that comes back to mind that you'd kind of forgotten about over the last 10 years but was a neat memory to think about again?
MIKE WEIR:¬† I guess going back‑‑ even further back, just remembering that‑‑ how long it took me just to get on the PGA TOUR.¬† I mean, it took me seven years just to become a PGA TOUR player and just remembering where I came from.¬† I think that's the biggest thing.¬† I mean, I was a pretty average professional golfer, less than average professional golfer.¬† I was playing‑‑ I was an average Canadian Tour player, won a few times.¬† By the time I left the Canadian Tour I won a couple times and won the Money List my last year.¬† But up until that point I was average, I guess, and I just needed to‑‑ I guess it just reminded me kind of what I'm going through right now that I can figure it out, that I can‑‑ I figured it out one time, how to get there to the top, and I'm kind of there again and that I can find it again.¬† So reminiscing that way that it was never easy for me.¬† I've always had kind of these struggles in my game.
I guess reflecting that way just kind of puts things in perspective and makes me more determined at the point I'm at right now.
Q.¬† I wonder in the 10 years since you've won the Masters how much has the golf course changed in your mind.¬† I know that obviously they've lengthened it out to make sure that the bigger hitters don't just destroy the place, but I know Phil mentioned this year about the 14th green.¬† I wonder if you've had a chance to go up and walk the course and see how much it's changed and kind of notice the changes in the 10 years since you played it.
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, it's changed quite significantly in the 10 years since I've played.¬† Well, to go back to the first time I played, I should say, in 2001, or 2000 was my first time. ¬†That's when they started changing a few things in the next coming years after that.¬† Yeah, the small changes they made this year on 14, a small change to the green but not much.
I guess the narrowness of the golf course, the length, one, and then the golf course being more narrow now, for trees, strategic trees being placed on a number of different holes, 11, significantly, the length of No.7 was a big change, the length of No.18 is a big change.¬† And the trees obviously getting a little bigger and the way they hangover the fairways and kind of pinch the hole in.¬† So it's a much narrower golf course than when I first started and a lot more than 20 years ago.
So precision is more a part of the game now at Augusta National, and then it's always‑‑ your touch around the greens and your putting, your ability to make putts inside of eight feet because you're going to have a lot of those for your second putts or pitches or bunker shots that you've hit, so that's‑‑ it tests all aspects of your game.¬† I think that's why it's such a great championship.¬† You have to have everything firing to win there, and then you obviously have to have your wits about you and your nerve coming down the back nine there.¬† That's why it's such a great championship.¬† We know the holes, we know the golf courses, we know a lot of the pin placements that are going to be set up, yet it still is this big challenge every year and always provides such‑‑ I think guys that are really on top of their game who are the champions at the end of the day.
Q.¬† You just mentioned the nerves there.¬† I wonder when you come around 9 and you move towards Amen Corner, when was it that you realized that you had a chance to win, and what were the nerves like when you were coming down the back nine with that in the back of your head?¬† I'm not sure if you're a scoreboard watcher or not.
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, I wasn't that whole week.¬† I wasn't a scoreboard watcher all week until I heard Brennan, my caddie, can told me that Len was out in front and playing this incredible round.
So I made a big putt on 13 from 10 or 12 feet for birdie, and that's when I knew that I still had a good shot here to win the tournament.¬† So I needed to do a few more things coming down the stretch, but I knew when I made that putt on 13, that got my adrenaline going pretty good, and I knew that I was still in the thing.
Q.¬† How hard is it to rein it in then?¬† You swing a little faster‑‑ is it a talk between you and Brennan then to make sure to take a deep breath before you go at this, make sure you follow your rhythm and make sure you follow exactly what you've done to get you into the position?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, I think a lot of things go unsaid between a player and caddie.¬† Brennan and I had a long relationship.¬† He knew me, knew the right things to say to me at the right time.¬† And again, I was in control of my game, and I felt very confident and good.¬† So there wasn't a lot that needed to be said.¬† We had a great game plan for the golf course, so we were trying to execute that, no matter really what the situation.¬† So that was really‑‑ I felt quite good, even though the adrenaline was going, I felt good about the last few holes I had in front of me, where other times maybe your caddie needs to say some things to you.¬† At that point I was feeling good, and there wasn't a lot that needed to be said.
Q.¬† Taking the past 10 years, how do you feel you've impacted the growth of Canadian golf and the number of Tour players that we currently have, and going forward it looked like Graham de Laet if he keeps playing well he might be another Canadian in the field, and have you reached out to Graham or him to you on the upcoming championship?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, I guess it's hard for me to say that‑‑ to look at the impact I've had on‑‑ I've heard Graham say a few things‑‑ I was surprised to hear him say he wouldn't be a professional golfer until he watched that 2003 Masters.¬† He said that really inspired him.
I think when you hear something like that, you think, wow, that's pretty cool.¬† At the time when I won, I actually said that in my acceptance speech that evening, that I hope it inspired some kids in Canada that they can achieve their dreams and maybe be standing in my place right here some day.
When I look at the guys that are on Tour now, I see great things, and I'm proud of them, and I'm their bigger fans.¬† I want them to do well, I want them to win tournaments and contend and win majors some day.¬† I'll be right there cheering for them.¬† As when I won, Richard Zokol reached out to me and was like that with me.¬† We've been good friends for a number of years through that.¬† It's great to have that camaraderie as Canadians out there because there's not many of us out there, but we are seeing more, and maybe there was some influence of me winning that tournament.¬† I hope so.¬† If that did inspire Graham and some of the other guys, that's wonderful.¬† That makes it worth it.
Q.¬† Let's bring it up to 2013.¬† When you step on that first tee, what is your attack plan for Augusta knowing that you're ex‑champion and we still believe you have a chance to win this tournament?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, yeah.¬† Every time I step on the grounds at Augusta, I have to play my game.¬† I don't have a second gear where I can fly it out there 300 yards.¬† I have to play my game, and my game‑‑ it has to be first get the ball in the fairway, play strategic golf, and really wedge it great.¬† I have to wedge it great, think well, putt well, and that's how I'm going to compete there.¬† That's how Zach Johnson won, as well, and that's how Jos√© Maria Olaz√°bal won there a couple of times, players that we don't have a lot of length, we have to play that kind of game, and if we miss a green, we have to be on the smart side of the hole where we can get the ball up‑and‑down or hopefully chip in or do something like that.
That won't be any different this year when I go.¬† Hopefully, as I said, I can get over the set back with my ribs and I'll be able to swing freely, because I do feel like some things are getting better.¬† I just‑‑ just a little disappointed I didn't have another couple of rounds in this week's tournaments to keep putting it to the test.¬† But anyhow, I'll maybe get down there a little early and maybe this rest will do me some good because I have been spending a lot of time practicing.¬† I've put in a tremendous amount of work.¬† Again, maybe my wife's right on this point.¬† Maybe life is trying to tell me to slow down here a little bit, and maybe this little break here will be good.
Q.¬† Is it better for your game to have a dry, fast Augusta with your touch around the greens, or would you rather see a cooler, wet Augusta?
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, I won with a cooler, wet Augusta, but I'd like to think that if it's faster, that would be better because I can get a little chase on the fairways a little bit and get the ball out there a little bit further.¬† I always seem to putt fast greens very well.¬† Anyhow, yeah, I'd like to see it play a little faster.¬† Mr.Palmer had Bay Hill playing nice and firm and that's, and I thought that was a great setup.¬† I'd like to see it play like that.
Q.¬† Just a Canadian Open question given that you referred to it recently and have over the years as your fifth major.¬† It's returning to the Glen Abbey this year, as you know, and you've had, at least in your early years, you struggled there and then of course you almost won in 2004.¬† Just maybe some comments on Glen Abbey and how you feel about that golf course now and your own experiences there over the years.
MIKE WEIR:¬† Well, I think I've learned to like it over the years.¬† I had such struggles there early in where I career and hardly played any quality rounds there early in my career and really struggled.¬† Not only struggled with the golf course, I struggled with handling the attention of being Canadian and playing in the Canadian Open.¬† I have talked to some of the younger guys about that and the expectation that's put on us during that week is tough.¬† It's a tough thing.
Now, obviously being a little older and experienced, I think that's why I played better there.¬† You learn how to handle those things.¬† But I think it's a good golf course.¬† It has some unique holes out there, obviously some of the valley holes have some unique greens.¬† You see a number of different types of winners there, some longer players, some medium length players.¬† I'm excited actually that it's going back there.¬† I've played pretty well there of late.¬† Hopefully it'll be a good championship this year.
Q.¬† To people who aren't Canadian, I don't think they can really understand the degree of emphasis in this country on a Canadian at the Canadian Open, particularly because it's almost 60 years now since a Canadian has won that tournament.¬† Do you see that in any way in the times you've played in Australia or of course the emphasis on British players winning the Open over there, I guess that's the only kind of comparison that one could really make, suppose, or could you agree with that at all?
MIKE WEIR:¬† In some way, maybe because I've lived it, it feels different in that there's more attention around us Canadians than maybe, like you said, the English players who may be playing Royal Lytham or something, because it's such an international field.¬† But the Canadian Open is, too, but maybe it's just a comparable thing.¬† I think it's as strong as a player trying to hold their flag, carry their flag.¬† But there's no doubt about it that there's an extra sense of pressure, and I think the longer 60 years kind of drags out here, the tougher it'll just keep becoming, especially if you get in contention, the more attention that brings Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday.¬† But again, you've got to have the right mentality about that and enjoy that and know it's there, and hopefully some of us Canadian guys will handle that this year and get in contention and experience that.¬† So it's something you want to look forward to now.
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