1999: Canadian Weir fulfills tall order north of border

Surrey, British Columbia

Canadian Mike Weir admitted he could not have scripted a better story for the Air Canada Championship.

“Right now, I’m even in a bit of a daze. Obviously, it’s unbelievable to win. I couldn’t create a better scenario,” Weir said Sept. 5 after becoming the first Canadian to win a PGA Tour event since 1992 and the first Canadian to win a Tour event on native soil in 45 years. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet.”

Weir, a 29-year-old Ontario native, solidified his place in Canadian golf lore by winning the $2.5 million Air Canada tournament, closing with consecutive 64s to finish at 18-under-par 266 at Northview Golf and Country Club course in suburban Vancouver.

In winning, Weir became the first Canadian to claim a PGA Tour victory since Richard Zokol won the Greater Milwaukee Open in 1992. He is also the first Canadian since Pat Fletcher at the 1954 Canadian Open to win in Canada.

“I’ve never shot back-to-back 64s in my life, for crying out loud, let alone doing it in a tournament. I can’t think of a better thing,” said Weir, who collected $450,000 for the victory, increasing his season money earnings to just under $1.3 million.

Weir took command in dramatic fashion when he made a 159-yard shot with an 8-iron for eagle on the par-4 14th hole.

“It came off perfect. I couldn’t have imagined it or visualized it any better,” Weir said.

The shot came after he missed a 4-foot par putt on the previous hole. The eagle vaulted Weir into the lead for good, and he eventually birdied No. 16 to go to 18 under.

Fred Funk, the third-round leader who began the day 13 under, made a hard charge with four birdies on the back nine, including a 30-footer on 17, but his 68 left him two strokes behind Weir.

Funk’s last hope to force a playoff ended when his tee shot at the par-4 18th landed in the rough. He opted to lay up in front of the pond guarding the green and made bogey.

Carlos Franco, a two-time winner in his rookie year, bogeyed 13 and 14 and closed with a 69 to finish third at 270.

Funk, who finished second for the second time this season, said Weir’s first victory on Tour was only a matter of time.

“Mike’s already got a lot of confidence, but he just pushed himself over the top,” said Funk, who earned $270,000.

Weir, who lost his Tour card after his rookie season in 1998, regained it by winning the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament last November. Prior to Sunday’s victory, he had four top-10 finishes, including a second-place finish at the Motorola Western Open in July.

He was also in the final group with Tiger Woods at last month’s PGA Championship. He shot a final-round 80 to finish T-10th.

He is the ninth first-time winner on the PGA Tour this season and becomes the sixth left-hander to win, joining Phil Mickelson, Bob Charles, Ernie Gonzalez, Sam Adams and Russ Cochran.

Scott McCarron set a course record with a 10-under 61 in the final round. McCarron’s round broke the Northview record of 62 set by Joel Edwards in 1997.

– Associated Press

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