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Mike Weir visits Sick Kids to kick off his fifth annual tournament that raises money for pediatric care at Canadian hospitals

Wed, 13 Jul 2011 01:00:00

by Lorne Rubenstein

Markham, Ont.- There are times when Mike Weir must think the attention outsiders pay to his problems is insane. His experience Tuesday could qualify as such a time. Weir started his day in Toronto at Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids), where he played Wii golf with 11-year-old Tobin Haas, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour the size of a baseball when he was 2.

Weir was at Sick Kids to kick off his fifth annual tournament that raises money for pediatric care at Canadian hospitals. He started his Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for Kids with a pledge to generate $10-million.

The tournaments raised $2.5-million in their first four years.

Tobin has undergone multiple surgeries since his brain tumour was found. He's had many rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. It's impossible to imagine the extent of his suffering and bravery. He, not Weir, was the star Tuesday. But understandably Weir got all the questions at Angus Glen Golf Club, where he worked with Tobin on his smooth swing. Tobin later caddied for Weir at the nearby Goodwood Golf Club, which was also used for participants in the fundraiser.

"My profession is a game," Weir, a father of two daughters, said during an interview at Angus Glen. "You see what these kids go through, and their fighting mentality. It's a whole different perspective."

On Monday, Weir shot 77-75 in Columbus to finish near the bottom of the field as he tried to qualify for the U.S. Open next week. He's made the cut in just one of the 12 tournaments he's entered this year. His scoring average is 74.93, last in the list of the 184 players on the PGA Tour's website in this category.

Those numbers are not pretty, but they are golf statistics only. Weir knows that. He's working hard, and feels his game could switch on any time. He's looking for the right swing coach and said he'll settle on one soon, perhaps as early as later this week. Meanwhile, he can't take his swing from the practice tee to the first tee.

Weir has played the last 48 major tournaments. Now he'll miss the U.S. Open and he's also missed qualifying for the British Open next month. He's not pleased.

"The majors are what I love to play," he said. "I've played well in them. I'd love to be there."

While Weir was talking, Tobin was on the range waiting for him. Weir calls him the "Tobinator." Weir was gentle and warm with the youngster. He teed up balls for him, and applauded him when he hit some excellent drives. He helped Tobin strengthen his grip. Weir was humbled. He felt for the youngster who has had to deal with so much, and who continues to deal with so much.

On Monday night, after arriving in Toronto from Columbus, Weir had dinner with Geoff Beattie. Beattie is the president and chief executive officer of Woodbridge Co. Ltd., which owns 85 per cent of The Globe and Mail, and the deputy chairman of Thomson-Reuters, one of Weir's sponsors and the presenting company of his Miracle Drive for Children. Woodbridge is the majority shareholder of Thomson-Reuters

"Geoff made a good point," Weir said. "He said you have to get out there and touch the world a little bit sometimes. You can get wrapped up in our own world and what you're doing."

Weir's sorry golf is bothering him, that's certain. He said he's had some sleepless nights trying to figure things out. After he finished helping Tobin, he said he wouldn't want any player to go through what he's going through.

"It stinks," Weir said. "The challenge is trying to figure it out, but going out there and playing like I've been playing, that's not fun."

Tobin was standing a few feet away. It was time for lunch. Two worlds had collided. The boy has been in a long fight for his life. The man has been fighting for his golf life.

The scene under the sizzling noonday sun seemed surreal. But it was all too real. The boy and the man moved on to lunch, and one could only hope for the best possible outcomes for each of them.