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May 28, 2003

Mike Weir


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We would like to welcome Masters champion, Mike Weir, to the interview room. Mike thanks for coming in for a couple of minutes. I won't ask you how you played 18 today. If we can talk about the golf course and what you have been up to the last couple of weeks since the Wachovia Championship. You mentioned you wanted to work on your putting after that tournament. You mentioned you wanted to work on your putting and some other things. We will let you talk a few minutes about that.

MIKE WEIR: Yes. The second part of the question, the last couple of weeks I have been working on that a little bit. I spent a little time in California with my coach for a few days working on my game. I have him out here to fine tune a few things and try to prepare for this tournament and get ready for the U.S. Open as well. This golf course is a great test now. I think it's playing pretty soft. It's playing long. A great change to 17, I think. The last couple of years it's be playing hard. You can rip it up that left side and hit a 9-iron and wedge. There wasn't too much to that hole anymore. Now you have to think on 17. You have to carry the ball 265 to carry the bunker and then there is a couple of bunkers up in that if it's downwind, it can catch your shot if you drive it too far through. The green is a little bit more difficult. Overall the course is playing nicely. The greens aren't quite up to speed. I had a chance to play with Jack today. I think with the new grass they are coming along, they are not quite up to the speed that he wants, but still they are rolling nice and rolling true. So the golf course is in perfect shape, as normal, as it is out here.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Having played just once after The Masters, is it good to be able to take that time and regroup and get your focus for the rest of the season? There are 3 majors this week and a lot of golf to be played.

MIKE WEIR: Yes, there are big events left outside of the majors. A couple of world golf championship events, the Canadian Open is important for me as well. It's important for me to reconnect with my family even though -- and I took a few weeks off. I was able to enjoy them. Relax, do fishing, as well, now I am ready to start playing again.

Q. Speaking of Jack Nicklaus, what kind of advice did you seek from him when you were at 13?

MIKE WEIR: The letter I wrote him was, I asked if I should switch to right-handed. He said stick to your natural swing; stick to left-handed. It was cool to get a letter back from Jack Nicklaus when you are 13 years old.

Q. Did he give you any advice today?

MIKE WEIR: No. He is striking well. He made 3 or 4 birdies in a row out there. He was driving it, not that I am long, he was driving it up there pretty much with me all day. Putted well. Everything looks good. His swing looks nice and free. It looks a lot better than it has the last couple of years for sure.

Q. Can you talk about the quality of the international field here and the way that you guys are treated?

MIKE WEIR: I haven't looked down the list at the international field, but I'm sure it's as good as it ever has been here. I played with the young British amateur champion from Spain, Alex Larrazabal, a good player. This tournament is a first-class event. Jack does a great job. We are treated first class, fantastic food, locker room guys are awesome. We play a quality golf course, always in perfect shape. It's one of the best events we play on the TOUR.

Q. (Inaudible)

MIKE WEIR: Yes. 6 weeks, one tournament. It's a little similar. I feel like it's a fresh start right now. Mentally, hopefully that will be the strong part of my game this week. I'm rusty with my swing, but once you get a few competitive rounds under my belt, I think your swing starts to comes around, you fine tune. Today I was better than yesterday, and you build into the week. So mentally I feel really fresh and ready to go.

Q. How hard did you work last week?

MIKE WEIR: I wouldn't say really, really hard, but I worked pretty hard, a little bit every day on fundamentals. I worked harder on my putting than anything. Like I said, saying to Joel, I was with my wife and kids the last week and I will play my way into the rest of the season.

Q. Being in this role I realize you need a break? (Inaudible)

MIKE WEIR: Yes. Traditionally I haven't played that well in the summertime. I'm looking to change that this year and hopefully, you know, this time off I have had, I have had a chance to regroup. I felt like I started the year so well because I didn't overwork, I just kind of played my way into it. Even a couple of weeks leading into Phoenix, where I haven't played for a few months, I practiced a little bit but didn't overdo it. Didn't over practice at that event to make up for lost time. I just kind of built in -- my confidence built as Phoenix went on, went into The Hope and started playing well, and actually played that the best I played that early, was probably Pebble Beach that I didn't win. I built my game up early in the year through competitive rounds rather than extra practice.

Q. You talk about the complacency is such a part of human nature, winning makes a career. You have won three times this year. Have you felt that you have already accomplished so much in a year that -- how do you fight that feeling, if you felt that? How do you fight it and guard against it?

MIKE WEIR: To tell you the truth, Gary, I haven't felt it at all. I felt more motivated to do well and make this a real special year. Whether that will happen or not, will be seen. But I don't feel any complacency as well. I want to keep pushing hard and try to get better.

Q. Mike, so guys play really well after a long break, others not so well; it takes them to get into it? What would your track record be in the past after a long break?

MIKE WEIR: It's be a little bit of both. Sometimes I've gotten off to a slow start. I've taken a few weeks off after the Byron Nelson. The Byron and Colonial I haven't played well. I have taken more time off this time and hopefully start playing here better. To start the beginning of the year, I've been almost off two months straight without playing a competitive round and playing a handful of normal rounds. Then I got off to a very good round, so a little bit of both.

Q. Mike, considering that golf isn't the No. 1 sport in Canada, I'm just interested to know the reaction to your win in the Masters in Canada. How was it received? How has it been since?

MIKE WEIR: It was received well. There hadn't been a major champion, Sandra Post won a major but not a guy. So it was a very exciting for everybody. I had a chance to go to the hockey game, the Toronto Leafs game, drop the puck. The ovation I had there, the building was shaking, everybody was really excited. So the reaction has been fantastic.

Q. Could you also tell me quickly about your clubs at the moment, your TaylorMade clubs?

MIKE WEIR: Yes, the same equipment I have been using since the beginning of last year. TaylorMade 3-irons, and a 580 driver and a 200 series, 3-wood and 5 -wood. I have used basically the same equipment for the last year and a half.

Q. Mike, speaking of hockey, how much did you want to see Adam Oates do well in the playoffs?

MIKE WEIR: Well, I'm hoping for the Ducks to rebound from last night, and they will. They have been a resilient team throughout the playoffs. It would be fantastic for Adam. He may play one more year next year. This may be his last shot at a Stanley Cup. The guy has been in the league that long, who has done what he has done in the league, and being a solid player you would like to see him get a Cup and go out on a high note. I'm hoping for him.

Q. You have been with this tournament before, you see all of the similarities to The Masters, the signs behind the greens. Did you notice that the first time you came here, the similarities? Do you get a kick out of noticing it this year?

MIKE WEIR: I noticed it the first year. The overalls, as you said. Jack is just trying to make this a first-class event just like The Masters is. He has done a great job with it. The course is in immaculate condition like Augusta National. The greens are rolling like Augusta. You have to putt the ball well here and premiums on iron play here, just like I feel Augusta is. This year there was a little more premium on driving the ball because they weren't able to get mowers on the rough at Augusta. But the similarities of driving here and there are pretty similar too. It gives you room to drive it and you have to hit solid iron shots on the right side of the hole. That's what you have here, too.

Q. The rough there?

MIKE WEIR: The rough is a little bit deeper here. The fairways are wide enough. It seems like if you miss a fairway here, there is a bunker. The holes I missed, there is a fairway bunker.

Q. Can you talk about the demands on you since The Masters? I don't know if we can go so far as to say your life has changed. Can you talk about everything?

MIKE WEIR: It hasn't been too bad. I had a few things to do, a few extra media requests that I wouldn't have had if I hadn't won. Outside of that, the last couple of weeks have been pretty calm. I'm trying to pick and choose what I want to do. I'm trying to keep on track with my game the rest of the year, per Gary's question, because I don't want to get complacent. I want to, you know, keep being ready to play each week I'm out here. This week it's been hectic here this week, the two days I have been here. After I am down here, I will get the practice in I need to get done. Just those little things that I have to just plan into my day and know that I will still need my hour of work to get done before and after.

Q. Is your family still going to Barnes and Noble, are you still doing that?

MIKE WEIR: Absolutely.

Q. What do the kids read there?

MIKE WEIR: We just go in the children's section and they pick a book. And my daughter, who is 5 now, she does a thing: There is a stage, almost, where they have like children reading time, she goes up and reads to us now.

Q. You mentioned the greens, Jack changed 10 of them, do you see anything out there, any hole today that was more difficult than others, any green, or subtle changes?

MIKE WEIR: They are have subtle changes. As I said with the new grass on the greens, they are not quite up to speed yet. He has added a few degrees of slope on a few holes and taken some out on a few holes. The front of number 9 is a little softer now. You used to come out of the water. That's a little softer. There is a few other little spots on the course that you pay attention to. It was good to play a practice round with him. Maybe there was a couple of things that I may not have noticed without him pointing them out.

Q. Did he point things out?

MIKE WEIR: Yes. Just as we were walking up there. He would say, I did this to this green. Good insight, for sure.

Q. Did you have any unusual offers that you passed up or accepted, posing for a swimsuit edition?

MIKE WEIR: No, not really. Just the only thing was, you know, there was couple of things in New York, the David Letterman Show. I was going to do it right the week after, but I was at home. The following week they call a blackout week which he doesn't tape. They wanted me to come back the following third week. Timing-wise I was in my routine. To fly from Salt Lake to do a show was out of the way.

Q. So you turned down David Letterman?


Q. Mike, the week of the Masters there was a lot of grumblings about it would take the longest hitters, given the wet conditions, do you think with your win that you gained new respect for shopping in course management, but certainly putting, you don't have to go out and hit those 300 plus drives?

MIKE WEIR: I think so. I probably gave a lot of guys hope. Not only Augusta National. Length does help but you still can get it done a different way, through solid iron play, hitting it in the fairway over and over, good wedge play, good putting. There is more ways to play this game than just bombing it out there, so, yes.

Q. Mike, we know what the reaction was in Canada, what was the reaction in Utah back home?

MIKE WEIR: It was great, too. People there were fantastic. The governor signed a declaration. My birthday, May 12th, they made it Mike Weir day in the state of Utah. Just stuff I never expected. People were excited there. In my home town there they named a street by the golf course there after me. I would never expect those things but they were real nice.

Q. Along the line of dropping the puck was there anything else that was exciting?

MIKE WEIR: No, dropping the puck was very cool. Very cool. You got to meet the linesman before the game. I grew up playing hockey. I love the game. Love the guys around the game, love to talk to them. So it was fun. It was exciting for me to be out there. Standing there when the guys are going out on the ice and the electricity in the air before a playoff game. Dropping a puck between Mats Sundin and Keith Primeau, both 6, 5 240 plus pounds.

Q. Did you drop the puck left handed or right handed?


Q. Have you seen Olympia Fields yet? And secondly there was talk that you were going to come to Detroit, to Joe Lewis and drop the puck there but they didn't stay around long enough, was that true?

MIKE WEIR: I would have loved to have done that. I was never asked to. If Detroit made it further on maybe, I would have loved to taken in a playoff game. At the same time, as much as I like Detroit I'm really pulling for OT and the Ducks to do well. Olympia Fields I have not seen the golf course. I'm going to go there this coming Monday and play there after the tournament there and check it out.

Q. What did you do on Mike Weir day?

MIKE WEIR: I did a golf clinic for my daughter's fund raiser at school. What else did I do? They have a thing in Utah, this buddy of mine does sports for channel 4 out there, a shot called beat the pro, I go out and hit a shot into this hole and people throughout the summer try to beat that. So I did that and the rest of the day I cleaned out my pool house, sat around the pool with my wife and kids and barbecued and that was it.

Q. How good was your shot?

MIKE WEIR: I think they will beat it, it was like 24 feet.

Q. What did you hit?

MIKE WEIR: 180 yards, shot like a 7-iron.

Q. Have you got any other breaks in your schedule like the one you just came off?

MIKE WEIR: No, not this long, a couple of weeks. There is a couple of times in there. I think I have a couple of weeks. I haven't planned out my schedule much past the U.S. Open. I haven't plotted it out very much.

Q. Can you talk about your fitness level, you are extremely fit, when did you really get into that fitness thing? How much more fit are you than three of four years ago? Is there a marked difference? Were you this ripped five years ago?

MIKE WEIR: I have been doing it a long time. I have been doing it probably since 1994. I have been working out pretty hard. I started pretty good in stretching. I hurt my back, I was out a semester in college, sophomore year of college. I was getting bad spasms in my back and I had to sit out a semester. I saw Jack's guy, Pete, I saw him and he gave me a bunch of stretches and got me in a program to help my back. From there I knew I needed to strengthen my back. So I started fitness in there and worked with a couple of people. I worked with a girl now in California for the last 3 and a half years. It's helped definitely my game. You need to get the ball a little further, a little more consistency. It's wear and tear on your body, traveling, lifting luggage. We are not a team sport like hockey where everything is taken care of. You have to lug your stuff to the airport, luggage is 50 pounds, golf clubs, 60 pounds that's why guys get injured.

Q. So have you stepped it up in the last two or three years?

MIKE WEIR: Yes. Probably in the last year stepped it up.

Q. A reason for that?

MIKE WEIR: I thought a little bit. I was at a general fitness level that I needed to get to before I could start to work out harder. I needed to get to a point -- kind of a baseline level first, before I could learn how to add weight and strength. That's where people make a mistake, they try to go too hard to early. It's a gradual thing. I hope to be stronger when I'm 45. I do a little more each year. That's what I try to do with my game, to gradually increase, not anything drastic.

Q. Mike, you touched on the changes to the 17th hole with the added 40 yards, do you think that was a needed change or do you think it was Mr. Nicklaus's way of not only protecting his course but making for a more exciting finish come Sunday afternoon?

MIKE WEIR: I think it was probably a needed change. As I was saying earlier, I think years past even that fairway bunker, the waste area on the left side, even if you hit it in there on the left, it wasn't that bad. You can hit a mid-iron or 8-iron to the green. Usually that left side was very firm and you can run it down there. I remember myself hitting a 9-iron and wedge down into that hole. I think Jack wanted a stronger finish which is good. So it probably did need the change.

Q. Looking back on it now and the mental toughness it took to get to The Masters and that major, and what you are going to use or carry on in a few weeks at the Open, just talk about what it took for that week and how it's going to help you?

MIKE WEIR: Well, I can take a lot of things away from Augusta. One was I drove it well. You have to drive it well in the U.S. Open, obviously. But you're not going to hit every fairway. You have to pitch out sometimes and use your wedge to try to get up and down to make par. It's a strong part of my game this year, wedge game and putting. You are going to be left with a lot of putts inside of ten feet for par, and you are going to have to convert a lot of them to stay within reach to win the tournament. I think those 3 things I can take away from Augusta and hopefully into Olympia Fields.


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