Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Masters win inspired a nation

Weir's victory at Augusta 10 years ago brought Canadian kids to game

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When Mike Weir made his acceptance speech after winning the 2003 Masters, he said he hoped that his victory would inspire some young Canadian golfers.

It certainly did.

It's impossible to know just how many Canadian kids picked up a golf club after watching Weir beat Len Mattiace in a playoff that day at Augusta National. But the impact of Weir's performance is already visible on the PGA Tour.

Weir said he thought it was "pretty cool" to hear that Canadian player Graham DeLaet didn't have plans to become a professional golfer until he watched that Masters victory. He added he's very proud of the fact that his win may have influenced the next generation of young golfers in this country.

"If that did inspire Graham and some of the other guys, that's wonderful." Weir said. "That makes it worth it."

Weir, from Bright's Grove, Ont., became the first Canadian-born men's player to win a major and the first left-hander to win the Masters. He weighed in on the accomplishment Wednesday as the 10th anniversary of his victory approaches.

The 42-year-old southpaw, who now lives in Utah, said the memories came rushing back during a recent visit to the famous course.

"Going back there a couple weeks ago, I kind of relived some of the shots maybe a little more than I normally would," he said.

One of the more memorable shots on that final Sunday came on the 18th green. Weir hit a clutch eight-foot putt and went on to win the playoff.

Weir, who has recorded eight career victories as a pro, is the most successful Canadian golfer ever. However, he hasn't won since 2007 and injuries have hampered his play in recent years.

"I feel healthy now except for a few little setbacks I'm having," Weir said. "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 go through ups and downs and it's just part of it.

"It's been disappointing though that I haven't (been healthy) but at the same time, I've enjoyed a lot of things and aspects of my life in recent years."

Weir is nursing a rib injury but still plans to be in the field at Augusta for the April 11-14 tournament.

"Maybe I'll get down there a little early and maybe this rest will do me some good because I have been spending a lot of time practising," he said.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 28, 2013 D5

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