Monday, April 14

Weir brings green jacket to Canada

TORONTO -- Mike Weir returned home Monday with a green jacket.

Mike Weir
Tiger Woods helped Mike Weir into his new green jacket Sunday.

Actually, it was a jacket on loan while the proper one is made at Augusta National in honor of his Masters victory Sunday.

Weir said he didn't leave Augusta National until close to midnight when friends and family headed back to his rental house near the course.

''We tried to round up a few Canadian beers but we couldn't find any,'' he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, speaking from a trade meeting in the Dominican Republic, said he stood and applauded while watching on TV as Weir became the first Canadian to win The Masters.

''We were all cheering at the end,'' Chretien said.

Chretien, an avid golfer, spoke to Weir by phone and told him he was ''very proud.'' He also invited Weir to appear at an unspecified time at Canada's Parliament.

Weir said he spoke with Wayne Gretzky twice after his victory and is gratified to be mentioned with the hockey great.

''Wayne's done so much for this country,'' Weir said. ''He's been a tremendous athlete and ambassador for sports and this country.''

Weir said Gretzky kidded him about the 6-foot putt he made on the 18th to force the playoff.

''He said 'You know the putt you had on 18? That's how nervous I feel on every putt,''' Weir said.

Weir held a news conference Monday and launched a line of golf accessories. He also signed autographs at a department store for over 2,500 people before heading to the Toronto Maple Leafs-Philadelphia Flyers playoff game Monday night. He was dropped the ceremonial first puck and appeared on a TV segment between periods.

The introduction of Weir's new line of golf accessories was drowned out by ''We want Mike'' following by urges to further glory with ''Grand Slam Mike.''

The capacity crowd of more than 19,000 attending the Philadelphia-Toronto NHL playoff game gave Weir a 90-second standing ovation -- one of the loudest in the Air Canada Centre's four-year history -- as he strode across a blue carpet to center ice.

''It's going to be just like Tiger Woods in the United States. All the young people are going to want to play golf,'' Ginette Malone said she waited earlier for a break in the department store crowds to snap Weir's picture.

Weir is from Bright's Grove, Ontario, and lives in Draper, Utah. He says that after the hockey game he will fly home and take three weeks off.

Weir moved up from 10th to fifth in the weekly world rankings released Monday -- the highest by a Canadian since the rankings were introduced in 1986. Weir earned $1.08 million for his Masters title and leads the PGA Tour money list with more than $3.3 million.

When asked about buoying his home country with his victory, Weir said: ''That makes me feel pretty special actually. ... It's a great honor.''

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