Mike Weir has enjoyed a lot of breakthroughs playing golf in Vancouver, including his first professional win while playing on the Canadian Tour in 1997 and his first PGA Tour victory two years later.
Weir has also long been the favorite to end a Canadian drought at his national open that dates back to Pat Fletcher winning down the road from here in 1954. In 2004, he almost did — losing in a playoff to Vijay Singh just one year after becoming the first Canadian to win a major at the 2003 Masters.
Now the Brights Grove, Ont., native returns to Vancouver just trying to break par.
Coming off elbow surgery late last season and an operation to drain fluid from his wrist in March, Weir has yet to finish under par in 14 events in 2011, making the cut in just two while losing his status on the PGA Tour and tumbling down to No. 475 in the world rankings.
"I was injured and developed some bad habits," Weir said on the eve of the Canadian Open.
"I'm fighting my way out of that. I'm trying to work my way back into form and gain some momentum, just string some solid shots together and, hopefully, it'll lead to some good rounds."
'I have a glimmer of hope'
If nothing else, after more rounds in the 80s (three) than 60s (one) this season, Weir comes into his home championship with a different set of expectations, at least externally.
"As poorly as I've played, I still like to think that I have a glimmer of hope if I can find the fairway a few more times than I have been," Weir said.
He'll have to this week, with the long, thick rough guarding tree-lined fairways at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club already earning widespread comparisons to a U.S. Open.
The rough was just as thick — but not as consistent — when Shaughnessy first hosted the Canadian Open in 2005. Marc Calcavecchia won then with a score of 5-under on the 7,010-yard, par-70 layout above the banks of the Pacific Ocean.
"I wish we played more golf course like this on Tour," said Carl Pettersson, who is the defending champion after winning at St. George s Golf and Country Club in Toronto last year, including a tournament record 60 on the Saturday.
"It's set up like a U.S. Open, major-style golf course — very demanding off the tee, the rough is up, the greens are small. It's a great golf course."
It's just not a great place to try and find your game, like Weir.
Or one where you can expect to see any repeats of Pettersson's 60 from last year.
"Yeah," Pettersson said when asked if 60 was out there.
"Maybe after 14 holes."