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Mike Weir trying to boost local hopes

Canada's Mike Weir will be under the microscope while Tiger Woods commands the spotlight as golf's best battle for the Presidents Cup.

The lowest ranked player in the international team, Weir arrived at Royal Montreal Golf Club on Monday for an early practice round eager to prove he is more than the token Canadian among a team including nine of the world's top 19 players.

While Weir's 46th world ranking is uninspiring, the 2003 Masters champion remains number one with Canadian golf fans, who are expected to turn out in record numbers when play begins on Thursday.

The ultra-competitive left-hander, however, is keen to show he can contribute more than enthusiastic crowds to the international cause and justify Gary Player's faith in selecting him as a captain's pick.

Weir was among the first out on the tree-lined course on Monday, playing the front nine with South African team mate Retief Goosen before scouting the back nine alone.

"I'm really excited, it's a big week," Weir told reporters. "I've been on three (Presidents Cup) teams, this is my fourth team and I haven't won yet but we've got 11 other horses on the team and we're going to try and get it done.

"It's been a long time coming since I talked to the commissioner about it (bringing the Presidents Cup to Canada) many years ago and now we're here.

"It's going to be great for Canadian golf. It's going to be big here."

While the NHL's Montreal Canadiens dominate headlines in both Montreal's official languages, English and French, the city possesses an even richer golf history.

The Royal Montreal Golf Club is the oldest in North America, having been chartered in 1873, more than three decades before the Canadiens came into existence in 1909.

While Weir supplies the necessary Canadian content, Woods brings plenty of power and buzz to the biennial event, headlining a U.S. team featuring the world's top four ranked players along with Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker.

It will be the greatest collection of golf talent to tee up in the Great White North with the Canadian Open suffering from mediocre fields in recent years due to its position on the schedule.

"Unfortunately, our national championship hasn't had the greatest fields in the last few years," said Weir, who has not won a PGA Tour event in three years. "To get Tiger, Phil and Ernie (Els), Adam Scott and all the great players here all in one spot is going to be great."


September 25, 2007

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