<
>

Weir brings green jacket to Canada

4/15/2003

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

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.''