|MONTREAL (AP) — Mike Weir would have been left out if the Presidents Cup had been played in any other country but Canada. Ten spots removed from one of the 10 automatic spots on the International team, the slumping Canadian was even a bit worried that Gary Player might still pass him over for one of his two captain’s picks. |
Luckily, Player wasn’t about to sacrifice the home-crowd advantage and set himself up for a week of criticism from the Canadian fans and media, so he added Weir and hoped the left-hander would right himself at Royal Montreal.
The Americans’ 191/2-141/2 victory aside, it ended up even better than Player and Weir could have dreamed, with the Canadian finishing an inspired five matches with a performance that rivals his 2003 Masters win.
On a perfect autumn Sunday on colorful Ile Bizard, Weir won the last two holes to beat Tiger Woods to the delight of the adoring fans who crammed into the bleachers and pressed against the ropes, waved flags, cheered and chanted at every turn.
“I told him I was proud of how he handled himself,” Woods said. “He had to carry an entire country on his shoulders. Not too many people can play as well as he did. He handled it magnificently.”
To the point that he wasn’t sure if the Masters was still his sweetest moment.
“It’s right there with it,” said Weir, who had the International team’s best record at 3-1-1.
Woods was 1 up with two holes to play, but Weir made a 10-foot birdie putt to win the 17th. With the match all square and Weir safely in the 18th fairway, Woods — playing the hole for the first time in five matches — pulled his tee shot into a pond.
Weir hit his approach to 15 feet and, after Woods’ chip for par stopped 2 inches from the cup, he conceded Weir’s putt. They shared a hug on the green as the gallery roared, filling the air with chants of “Mike! Mike! Mike!”
“I liked my chances today,” said Weir, 3 up after 10 holes. “I felt good about my game. I knew I was going to give him a battle. I played about as good as I can and Tiger missed some chances.”
After winning 101/2 of 11 points in the alternate-shot matches the first two days, the United States took a 141/2-71/2 lead into the closing singles. Needing only three points to win their first cup on international soil in 14 years, they took five.
David Toms topped the scoring table, beating Trevor Immelman 2 up to finish with 41/2 points. Scott Verplank won all four of his matches, holding off Rory Sabbatini 2 and 1 six years after winning the last Canadian Open at Royal Montreal.
“In the end, golf was the winner this week,” Toms said. “We put on a good show. Canada put on a good show.”
Phil Mickelson put on a clinic, routing Vijay Singh 5 and 4 to improve to 1-3-3 in Presidents Cup singles.
“I was excited to have a chance to play Vijay,” Mickelson said.