Mike Weir Crowd favorite Mike Weir shares first-round lead in rain-soaked RBC Canadian Open

Bidding to become the first Canadian to win his national championship in more than a half century, Mike Weir is right where he wants to be at the RBC Canadian Open.

Taking advantage of soft, wet conditions, Weir opened with a 6-under-par 65 Thursday at Glen Abbey Golf Course to share the first-day lead. The 2003 Masters champion is tied atop the leaderboard with Eric Axley and Anthony Kim as first-round play was suspended.

Only half the field finished Thursday due to a rain delay that lasted nearly six hours. The Oakville, Ontario, course has been pelted with eight inches of rain in the past week, causing maintenance crews to work nearly around the clock just to get it tournament-ready.

"Obviously, it was very wet," Weir told reporters. "It played probably about as easy as Glen Abbey can play, given the ball's not running out through the fairways on some of the doglegs.

"With the greens being soft, you can fly the ball right to the hole and it would stop. So you want to take advantage of today."

Weir said playing in front of a friendly crowd certainly didn't hurt his cause. He joked that now he knows what Tiger Woods must feel like, playing in front of large galleries, pulling for him to do well.

"I think when I get on a roll like maybe today, you can sense the energy," Weir said. "That's what Tiger gets a lot. … Someone was asking me about how does he make these putts on the last hole? He believes he can make it. The crowd believes he can make it.

"It's all the right stuff going in the right direction. It's nice to have that one time, one week. When people are pulling for you, sometimes there is a feeling like you feel like you just can't miss."

Kim said it's easy to tell how the fans feel about Weir, who is trying to become the first Canadian winner of the event since Pat Fletcher in 1954.

"Obviously the people love him here and rightfully so," Kim told reporters. "What he's done for Canadian golf is wonderful and something to be very proud of.

"I know I have an uphill climb. He's a great player. He's obviously shown it with a Masters win and a Tour Championship and a number of other wins he has. I have nothing but respect for him, and I'm looking forward to the challenge of playing against the field, not just Mike."

Among the players who finished their first round, Weir, Axley and Kim are two shots ahead of Richard Johnson, J.P. Hayes, Ryan Armour, Nicholas Thompson and Jason Allred, who all shot 4-under 67. Bob Estes, Dudley Hart, Steve Allan, Bill Haas, Steve Flesch, Jeff Maggert, Carl Pettersson, Ted Purdy, Kevin Streelman and Michael Letzig are all tied for 11th at 3-under 68.

Weir's round included 11 one-putt holes as he equaled his best round in the Canadian Open. With the gallery spurring him on, Weir played a bogey-free round and made six birdies, including four on the front nine.

"I hit solid shots right out of the gate — hit the ball close to the hole quite a bit today," Weir said. "When I did make a mistake, I recovered."

July 25, 2008

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