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Weir tries to break Canadian Open jinx

Mike Weir knows all about the fine line between pushing too hard and just relaxing and playing. Now if he could only find it. The golfer from Bright's Grove, Ont., hopes to turn the corner on what's been a miserable season in the $4 million Bell Canadian Open at Angus Glen this week, plus put an end to his decade-long string of disappointments at the Canadian tournament.

"You just try to work on the same things you've had success with and then let them happen on the golf course. It's an easy thing to say, sometimes a tough thing to do," Weir said Wednesday.

"You just try to let go on the golf course and just let it happen. That's what I've been fighting a little bit, trying to be too perfect," he added. "It's not a game you can control, and I've probably been trying to control it a little bit too much instead of just letting it happen."

Plagued by putting woes, success has eluded Weir this season.

He'd won PGA events in each of the previous three years, but the best he's been able to muster this season is a tie for 11th at the Honda Classic. Last week, he struggled to a sixty-third place finish in the Air Canada Championship, another in a long line of letdowns.

The Canadian Open hasn't been any kinder to Weir.

He finished tied for 34th at Royal Montreal last year, and 70th at Glen Abbey in 2000. The nine years before that, he failed to make the cut.

"I've had a little breakthrough, making some cuts the last couple of years which is a step in the right direction," he said, with a half-hearted laugh. "It's probably a little bit of my own expectations, trying a little too hard, trying to get focused."

Plus, he says he's older and wiser, and less likely to let the hype of this event, and the expectations of the home crowd, throw him off his game.

"You almost get over geared-up for it, almost practise too hard," Weir said of past Opens. "I was so excited about it, and it was kind of system overload by the time the tournament started."

Weir stands 69th on the PGA Tour money list this season with $719,520.

No Canadian-born player has won the Canadian Open since Karl Keffer in 1914.

Canadian resident Pat Fletcher won in 1954. Dave Barr of Kelowna, B.C., has been the closest since, tying for fourth at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont., in 1988.

Eighteen Canadians will play in the 93rd Canadian Open starting Thursday, led by Ian Leggatt of Cambridge, Ont., who won the Tucson Open in February, Glen Hnatiuk of Selkirk, Man., David Morland IV of Aurora, Ont., who finished tied for fifth at Royal Montreal last year, and Weir.

"There have been years when nobody in Canada thought a Canadian would win the Canadian Open," said Leggatt, who's enjoying his best season yet, ranked 48th on the money list with $1,025,287. "I think this year we have three legitimate guys who could go out and win.

"I would love for me to win, and almost equally happy if Mike or Glen would win. Id love to be in a position on Sunday to find out what may happen."

There have been mutterings leading up to the tournament about a weak field, and a course that's too easy. Among the notable absentees are Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Phil Michelson, and Sergio Garcia. And some of the players present have complained the course is way too easy for a PGA player, Richard Zokol of White Rock, B.C., calling it the easiest Tour course he's ever played.

Leggatt scoffed at both notions.

"The players don't look at it that way, like 'Hey, I'm teeing it up in a weak tournament, I have a chance to win this week,"' said Leggatt. "They know that everybody can play here. Anybody can win at any given time. You don't get a free pass to the PGA Tour, everybody has earned their way out here, and everybody can play."

As for the course, while most of the players agree the fairways are wider than they normally play, Leggatt said the treacherous roughs make up for it.

"Even though the fairways are a little more ample than we normally get on Tour," said Leggatt, "you miss a fairway and it's an extremely high penalty you're going to pay."

Notes: Leggatt will play in a group with Steve Stricker and Fulton Allem, while Weir is paired with Matt Gogel and Carlos Franco in the opening two rounds Thursday and Friday. ... John Levitt, Weir's amateur teammate in Wednesday's pro-am event, shot a hole-in-one on No. 12.


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