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Mike Weir changes sponsor

The face of Canadian golf will soon have a slightly different look.

Mike Weir signed a five-year deal Monday that will make Thomson Corporation his primary corporate sponsor starting next month. That coincides with the end of his relationship with Bell Canada after 14 years and means that Weir will be wearing Thomson's logo on his hat in 2008. He'd worn Bell hats throughout his PGA Tour career.

Weir sees parallels between his game and Thomson's business interests.

"When you want to get to the top, you have to be willing to (take risks)," said Weir. "I think that's why it's such a great partnership because Thomson's been willing to do that."

Thomson agreed to purchase the international news agency Reuters earlier this year and expects that deal to close in 2008. The company will then be renamed Thomson Reuters.

Those global interests might have some influence on the tournaments Weir enters moving forward. He played events in Hong Kong, China, Thailand and the United Kingdom in 2007 and can be expected to have a similar schedule next year.

"I think how I'm going to do business with a corporate partner like Thomson might be a little bit different than some of the other partners I have," said Weir. "Maybe I'm going to play a little more internationally since they have kind of a broader base around the world."

His relationship with Bell began while Weir was still playing mostly at home on the Canadian Tour. That company gave him a cellular phone with free calling, which was a big help when he was earning very little money and travelling around the country.

Both Weir and Thomson deputy chairman Geoffrey Beattie acknowledged the strong role Bell played in the golfer's development.

"They helped me out when I got started," said Weir. "They've been a big part of my success for a long time."

That success was highlighted in a video tribute before the announcement was made at the Toronto Stock Exchange Tower.

The video showed Weir during eight PGA Tour wins - all of which came with Bell's logo on his hat. He's entering a new era now and believes he'll be travelling to fewer outings for Thomson based on the preliminary discussions he's had with the company.

"Maybe instead of the traditional corporate golf day, wherever city I'm playing they might bring clients out to me," said Weir. "(We) can do something on a Monday or Tuesday when I'm out at an event.

"At this stage where I'm at right now, that made more sense to me. (It allows me) to maximize my time a little bit better."

His focus is on nothing more than winning golf tournaments at this point. Weir is 37 years old and has career earnings of more than US$20.8 million on the PGA Tour.

The other companies Weir represents include Taylor Made, Dynamic Funds and RBC, which has taken over sponsorship of the Canadian Open. He also has his Weir Golf brand that produces apparel and sunglasses and the Mike Weir Estate Winery, which donates its proceeds to the Mike Weir Foundation.

One of the most interesting things about his new relationship with Thomson is the possibility that Weir might play more internationally.

He recently completed a mini-swing through Asia, where Weir finished 12th in Hong Kong and tied for 17th in China while representing Canada at the World Cup with Calgary's Wes Heffernan.

Weir would liked to have done better there.

"He played well - I didn't hold up my end of the bargain," he said.

Those tournaments came after Weir ended a three-plus year drought by winning the Fry's Electronics Open in Arizona and defeated Tiger Woods in a singles match at the Presidents Cup in Montreal.

Things are clearly looking up as he moves into 2008.

"My career's had a lot of ups and downs," said Weir. "Throughout when I was playing in Canada and Australia and all over the place there was lots of ups and downs.

"And that's through trying to get better. That's what my career's all been about - just trying to figure out a way to get better."

 

December 25, 2007




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