For the first time in five years, two Canadians will walk the fairways at Augusta National when the 2014 Masters commences on Thursday.
Mike Weir, who will play in his 15th Masters, will be joined by 32-year-old Graham DeLaet, who will contest the green jacket for the first time. Stephen Ames played the tournament with Weir in 2009.
Today on his blog, Weir shared both excitement and nostalgia, “It doesn’t matter what I’ve done this year up to this point, walking around this golf course just gets me inspired,” wrote Weir, and on some Sunday practice time, “It was (a) gorgeous, quiet evening and walking around this amazing course was very special. It reminded me of when I was a kid, playing back at home, just walking around by myself on summer evenings.”
Sentiment is always part of golf, but Weir will have to bring his best game as well. The 43-year-old has missed the cut in eight of his last 10 tournaments. “Right now, my game is feeling pretty good. I know that may sound strange considering my results of late, but I feel I’m hitting it well but just not able to score,” said Weir on his website.
If there’s any place to play himself back into the conversation, it would be at Augusta, where he became the first Canadian to win a major back in 2003. And he’ll have the company of the relatively young Graham DeLaet who is the top Canadian of late, including three top-10 finishes in 2014. It’s hard to say who might fare better this week. DeLaet is playing better, but Augusta is a course kindest to those who know it best, and experience favours Weir. Although the course has only been altered slightly from 2013, the most noticeable change is the absence of the famous Eisenhower Tree from the 17th fairway. It had to be removed after an ice storm earlier this year. (Augusta National has reportedly gone to great lengths to remove it from all places). For his part Weir called the removal ‘eye-opening’, but mentioned it would help his game not to have to manoeuvre around it.
As for DeLaet, his Monday practice round was cancelled due to rain, so he spent the day huddled around a cribbage board. According to his Twitter profile, it’s a game he also excels at.
Weir has a high opinion of DeLaet’s golf game and feels it is aptly suited for Georgia’s most famous links, “I think Graham has a good game for Augusta – he drives the ball very well and Augusta National is, in my opinion, very underrated as a driving course. He’s also very good hitting greens and his short game has really improved the last couple of years,” Weir included in his blog. He also mentioned the two had chatted about the course recently.
The elder Canadian will tee off alongside Americans Matt Every and Roberto Castro just after 9 am ET Thursday, with DeLaet going with 2008 champion Trevor Immelman of South Africa and Aussie Oliver Goss around 12:30 pm ET.
GALLERY: To beard or not to beard, Graham DeLaet and his 2014 #beardmode success:
Photos: Canadian Press