SALT LAKE CITY — If it were a normal year, Mike Weir would be well into his first season on the PGA Champions Tour, with as many as five tournaments under his belt.
However, the coronavirus pandemic changed all that as eight Champions Tour events have been canceled since March. So instead, Weir will be making his Champions Tour debut this week when he plays in The Ally Challenge at Warwick Hills G&CC in Grand Blanc, Michigan, beginning Friday.
“My game feels really good. I feel invigorated.” — Mike Weir
Weir has been looking forward to playing the Champions Tour for the last few years as he approached age 50. “Pro golf is interesting because you look forward to your 50th birthday, rather than dread it,” he said.
His 50th birthday was May 12, and he was excited to play his first event in Benton Harbor, Michigan, just a few hours from Bright’s Grove, Ontario, where he grew up.
“I had been pinpointing that 50th birthday and had a bunch of family and friends that were going to come to that event in Michigan,” he said. “We had a big party scheduled and it was going to be fun.”
Instead the coronavirus spoiled those plans and postponed his senior debut until this week. Coincidentally, it will be in Michigan, much closer to his Canadian home, but with no fans allowed he won’t be able to have that party.
But he’s thrilled to get the chance to compete on the Champions Tour with his game in better shape than it’s been in years.
“My game feels really good,” he said. “I feel invigorated.”
After growing up in Canada, Weir graduated from BYU in 1992 and played various tours around the world before making it on the PGA Tour in the late 1990s. He won five tournaments before winning the Masters in 2003, and between 2001 and 2005 he was ranked among the top 10 golfers in the world.
In recent years he’s been hampered by various injuries to back, elbow and wrist and his game suffered as a result.
The past two years, however, he’s been playing the PGA Korn Ferry Tour off and on and seen his game round into shape. In last month’s Utah Championship at Oakridge Country Club, he made the cut with rounds of 68, 68, 68 and 71.
He said he’s been “hunkered down” at his home in Sandy for the past few months and has enjoyed getting to play courses around the state that he hasn’t played before, such as Bonneville and Valley View. Besides the Utah Championship, he played in two other Korn Ferry events before resting the past couple of weeks.
The 5-foot-9, 155-pound Weir has never been known as a long hitter, but feels he’ll fit right in with his fellow senior golfers after being outdriven by 50 to 75 yards by players on the PGA and Korn Ferry tours.
“I just don’t have the firepower week in and week out to keep up with these guys, but I do on the Champions Tour, and I’m looking forward to that,” he said.”
He’s also looking forward to renewing old friendships with players he played with on the PGA Tour for many years and said there’s “a nice influx of new guys,” including the likes of Ernie Els, K.J. Choi and Jim Furyk, who have all recently turned 50. In fact, Weir has been paired with Choi and Furyk for the first round of this week’s tournament.
“I have been looking forward to this for awhile,” Weir said. “I am looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces, guys I grew up playing with, so that will be good to see them.”
Weir says he plans to play in most of the rest of the tournaments on the Champions Tour this year, which will include 11 events before the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in early November.