Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Weir on his game this day

Low Canadian tied for 26th at Glen Abbey; Mahan leads

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OAKVILLE, Ont. -- Mike Weir has given golf fans in Canada a lot to cheer about during his career.

Despite his recent struggles with injuries and inconsistency, the large gallery following him in the second round of the RBC Canadian Open got a glimpse of the past.

The Brights Grove, Ont., native shot a 5-under 67 on Friday to sit as the low Canadian at the tournament at 4 under overall with 36 holes to play.

"It was a great day. It was one of those rounds that could have been really anything," Weir said. "I could have been 10 under pretty easily. But I played great, and it was exciting to do that for the fans."

Weir sits in a tie for 26th, nine strokes back of leader Hunter Mahan, and is one of just four Canadians from the field of 18 to make the cut at Glen Abbey Golf Club.

The Canadian Open, which has not seen a winner from this country in 59 years, is the PGA Tour's only trip north of the border. The pressure of playing in front of a partisan crowd is something the 43-year-old Weir relishes.

"There's not really anybody on Tour that has anything like this, to have the support like that," he said. "It's up to us Canadians when we come up here. To see the gallery support today as I got going and got rolling, you can really feed off that."

It could have been an even bigger day for the 2003 Masters champion, who was 7 under on the day until stumbling a bit with back-to-back bogeys on his final two holes.

"I've been dancing around really good numbers here for a while, and that was a nice solid one for sure... could have been a really good one," said Weir, who finished in a season-high tie for 27th at the John Deere Classic earlier this month.

Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., a Tour player who earned an exemption into the tournament, shot his second straight 71 Friday to sit at 2 under in a tie for 56th.

The 26-year-old missed the cut at the 2011 Canadian Open but is relishing his chance on the big stage while also trying to keep things in perspective.

"It's your national open. It means so much to you. A Canadian hasn't won it in eons, so I think every Canadian wants to perform well at their national open. You can put a little extra pressure on yourself," Sloan said. "But at the end of the day, you're out there on a golf course and it's you and a target and you've got to hit your target.

"I think if you can focus on that and put the distractions aside, you can play well out here."

Ottawa's Brad Fritsch followed up Thursday's 69 with a second-round 73 after bogeys on two of his last four holes. "I feel pretty good. My short game feels really good," said Fritsch, who also sits at 2 under.

David Hearn was the only other Canadian to make the cut, and he left it to late. The Brantford, Ont., native squeaked in with three birdies on his final three holes -- including a 47-foot putt on 18 that got a huge cheer from the crowd -- to close with a 73 and a two-day mark of 1 under.

No Canadian has won the tournament since Pat Fletcher accomplished the feat in 1954. Fritsch says players like Weir and himself would like nothing more than to write their names into the history books and grab the lion's share of the $5.6-million purse.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 27, 2013 C7

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