Mike Weir

Michael Richard Weir, CMOOnt, golfer (born 12 May 1970 in Sarnia, ON). Mike Weir is widely considered the greatest Canadian golfer, and one of the best Canadian athletes, of all time. He became the first Canadian man to win one of professional golf’s four major tournaments when he won the 67th Masters Tournament in 2003. In total, he won eight victories on the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour, tying him with George Knudson for the most wins by a Canadian (surpased by Brooke Henderson in 2019). Weir won the Lou Marsh Trophy for Canada’s top athlete in 2003 and is a three-time winner of the Lionel Conacher Award as the country’s best male athlete. He has been inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. He has also run a winery and several charitable foundations.

Mike Weir
Mike Weir, 2010

Childhood

Mike Weir was born in SarniaOntario, the youngest child of Richard and Rowie Weir. Richard worked at a chemical company, while Rowie was a stay-at-home mother who looked after Mike and his two older brothers, Jim and Craig.

Like many Canadians, Weir played hockey and baseball while growing up. At age eight, he began golfing with his dad at the par-three Holiday Inn Golf Course in Sarnia. Two years later, his family moved to nearby Bright’s Grove, Ontario, where their new home was directly across the street from the Huron Oaks Golf Club. Mike’s father signed up for a family membership at the club, giving his children access to the swimming pool and exercise center as well as the golf course.

Junior Golf Champion

When Weir was 11 years old, he got a summer job at the Huron Oaks Golf Club, working as a caddy and in the pro shop. On 9 September 1981, Weir met golf legend Jack Nicklaus, who played a round of golf at Huron Oaks with Weir’s junior coach, Steve Bennett. A right-hander who golfs left-handed, Weir wrote Nicklaus two years later and asked him if he should switch to playing right-handed. At the time, most left-handed golfers were advised to switch to playing right-handed. Nicklaus’s advice to him: “If you are a good player left-handed, don’t change anything — especially if that feels natural to you.” Weir followed his advice, and still has the framed letter.

By the time he was 14, Weir had dreams of playing on the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour. Bennett, the junior coach, was very impressed with Weir’s work ethic. In 2011, he told Jeffrey Reed of the Londoner that Weir “wanted to practice, and play, and wanted to learn, where most juniors would play a little bit of golf, run to the beach, go play basketball. [Weir] gave up hockey early, after he finished his Pee Wee season, and concentrated solely on golf. He knew then what he wanted.” Bennett was also very impressed with Weir’s skill level, stating, “He was much better than the rest of the juniors.”

By the time Weir was 16 years old, he had mastered the Huron Oaks Golf Course. In one round, Weir shot a nine-under-par 63. That same year he won the 1986 Canadian Juvenile Golf Championship (national championship for golfers 16 years of age or younger) at the Windermere Golf and Country Club in EdmontonAlberta.

After his championship win in Edmonton, Weir received the 1986 Pappy Burr Award, which was presented to a Sarnia high school student who excelled in academics and athletics.

In 1988, during his final year of high school, Weir won the Ontario Junior Boys Golf Championship at the Chedoke Golf Course in HamiltonOntario. During the event, Weir recorded his first hole-in-one of his golf career, on the eighth hole.


College Golf Star 1988–92

After graduating from St. Clair Secondary School in Sarnia in 1988, Weir attended Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, on a golf scholarship. In his four seasons with the BYU Cougars, Weir helped the school win three consecutive Western Athletic Conference (WAC) golf championships (1990–92). He also finished second at the 1990 WAC Golf Championship in El Paso, Texas. In 1992, his senior season, he was named WAC player of the year and Second Team All-American.

While attending BYU, Weir continued to have success on Canadian soil as well. He won two Ontario Men’s Amateur Golf Championship titles in three years — at the Mississauga Golf and Country Club in 1990 and at the St. Thomas Golf and Country Club in Union, Ontario, in 1992.

Early Professional Career 1993–98

Like many professional golfers, Weir needed to improve his game in developmental tours before reaching the ultimate goal, the PGA Tour. In 1993, he joined the Canadian Professional Golf Tour (commonly known as the Canadian Tour) and enjoyed instant success, winning the Infiniti Tournament Players’ Championship at the King Valley Golf Club (King City, Ontario) and the 1993 Canadian Professional Golf Tour Rookie of the Year.

Weir won two more times on the Canadian Tour — the 1997 Canadian Masters in Alberton, Ontario, and the 1997 BC Tel Pacific Open in RichmondBritish Columbia. These two victories helped Weir win the 1997 Order of Merit on the Canadian Professional Golf Tour.

Weir qualified for the 1998 PGA Tour season with a strong performance at the 1997 Q-School (qualifying) Tournament in Haines City, Florida. That season, he finished 131st on the PGA Tour money list (the ranking of players according to the amount of prize money won). Since he had missed the top 125, he did not get automatic entry for the following season and therefore needed a strong showing in the qualification tournaments. Weir returned to Q-School in 1998 in La Quinta, California, and won the tournament, qualifying for the 1999 PGA season.


Rising Star 1999–2002

Weir won his first golf tournament on the PGA Tour at the 1999 Air Canada Championship at the Northview Golf and Country Club in Surrey, British Columbia. He was the first Canadian golfer to win a PGA event in Canada since 1954, when Pat Fletcher won the Canadian Open at the Point Grey Golf and Country Club in Vancouver. Weir also became the first Canadian golfer to win on the PGA Tour since 1992 (when Richard Zokol won the Greater Milwaukee Open) and only the sixth left-handed golfer ever to win on the PGA Tour.

By 2000, Weir had firmly established himself in professional golf. He finished sixth on the PGA Tour money list and won the prestigious World Golf Championships-American Express Championship in Valderrama, Spain. Weir displayed a remarkable amount of resiliency and patience during the competition: after the second round, he was eight shots back. However, he shot a third-round 65 to move into second place and then beat Lee Westwood by two strokes to win the title.

In 2000, Weir participated in the Presidents Cup, a series of matches between a United States Team and an International Team, made up of top players from the rest of the world, excluding Europe. Weir was the first Canadian to be named to the International Team. His record of three wins and two losses made him the top International player. At the end of the season, Weir also won the Lionel Conacher Award as Canada’s top male athlete — the first golfer to do so since Charles Ross “Sandy” Somerville in 1932.

The following season, in 2001, Weir won the PGA Tour Championship in Houston, Texas, in a playoff over Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and David Toms. He also won his second consecutive Lionel Conacher Award that year.

2003 Masters

Weir began the 2003 PGA season with two victories in February. He won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Bermuda Dunes, California, where he shot an impressive 30 under par. Three weeks later, he beat Charles Howell III in a playoff to win the Nissan Open in Pacific Palisades.

Weir therefore had significant momentum heading into the 2003 Masters, the first major golf tournament of the season. The first day of the Masters was postponed due to rain, forcing him to play 30 holes of golf on the second day of the tournament. On 11 April 2003, he shot six under par to lead Darren Clarke by two strokes. Weir then struggled over 24 holes the following day, and fell two strokes behind Jeff Maggert with one full round of golf remaining. However, in the fourth round, Maggert faltered, while Len Mattiace had a formidable seven-under 65. Weir was steady, making some key par putts and recording only the fourth bogey-free final round by a winner in the tournament’s 67-year history. He shot a four-under 68 to force a playoff, and won the championship on the 10th playoff hole. In winning the 2003 Masters, Weir became the first Canadian man to win a major golf championship and the first left-handed golfer to win the Masters.

In June 2003, Weir tied for third at the US Open, the second major of the season. At the end of the season, he was ranked sixth in the world. In recognition of his success, Weir once again won the Lionel Conacher Award and also received the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete.


Golf Career Since 2004

In 2004, Weir defended his title at the Nissan Open, defeating Shigeki Maruyama by one stroke. He also lost a sudden-death playoff to Vijay Singh at the Canadian Open at the Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ontario. Weir finished eighth in the world rankings that season.

Three years later, in 2007, Weir beat Tiger Woods in an exciting singles match at the Presidents Cup at the Royal Montreal Golf Club. It would be Weir’s fourth of five times representing the International Team at the Presidents Cup. He went on to beat Mark Hensby by one stroke to win the Frys.com Open in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was Weir’s eighth victory on the PGA Tour, tying him with George Knudson for most wins by a Canadian (Brooke Henderson set a new record in 2019 with nine).

His eighth victory would also be his last on the PGA Tour. Weir twice finished in second place in 2008, followed by another second-place finish in 2009. However, since 2010, Weir has suffered from injuries to his wrist and elbow, and has struggled to make the cut for PGA tournaments. His best result since 2009 was a second-place finish to Brendon Todd at the 2014 Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas. In 2016, Weir competed in the RBC Canadian Open but failed to make the cut.

In 2016, Weir was a special analyst with TSN during the broadcaster’s coverage of The Masters, and an on-course analyst for TNT during the 2016 PGA Championship.

PGA Tour Victories

5 September 1999

Air Canada Championship

12 November 2000

WGC-American Express Championship

4 November 2001

The Tour Championship

2 February 2003

Bob Hope Chrysler Classic

23 February 2003

Nissan Open

13 April 2003

Masters Tournament

22 February 2004

Nissan Open

21 October 2007

Fry’s Electronics Open


Charitable Foundation

In 2004, Weir created the Mike Weir Foundation to help families in need and to promote the physical, emotional and educational welfare of children. In 2007, he launched a national charitable program called the Mike Weir Miracle Drive for Kids. The foundation raises funds to support the member hospitals of the Children’s Miracle Network.

Winery

In 2005, Weir founded Mike Weir Wine Inc., through which he operated an estate winery in Beamsville, Ontario, in the wine-producing Niagara region. In the years that followed, he donated the profits from his winery to support his charitable foundation. In 2013, Weir sold 15 per cent of the winery to Toronto-based sports broadcaster Bob McCown, who then bought full control in 2017. However, the winery was put up for sale in October 2017 and closed down in April 2018. On 30 January 2019, following an application by Weir, an order from the Ontario Superior Court put the winery into receivership. Court documents claim that the winery owes $2.2 million to Weir and $4.3 million to the Royal Bank of Canada.  

Honours

Weir was ranked No. 12 in Maggie Mooney’s Canada's Top 100: The Greatest Athletes of All Time (2010). His Masters win in 2003 was ranked No. 4 in James Bisson’s 100 Greatest Canadian Sports Moments (2008). When Weir was invested into the Order of Canada in 2009, Governor General  Michaëlle Jean remarked that his “charitable activities are as notable as his golfing accomplishments.”

Awards