OAKVILLE, Ont. — It’s been nearly a decade since Mike Weir arrived at the RBC Canadian Open and wasn’t the biggest star on the grounds.
But that’s exactly the situation he found himself in Monday morning as he quietly stepped on to the practice range at Glen Abbey amid a gaggle of celebrities.
There was Michael Jordan standing in the middle of the putting green, exchanging phone numbers with John Daly and puffing on a large cigar. Less than 100 feet away, an excited group of fans nearly knocked one another over while trying to get actor Kevin Costner to sign some memorabilia. And grouped together on the practice tee was NHL stars Joe Thornton and Rick Nash, who chatted about the off-season before hitting a couple of warmup shots.
Of course, they had all turned up on a sunny morning to support Weir and play in a charity tournament that benefits his foundation for kids. The host was thrilled to see so many stars.
“It means a lot to have guys take time out of their summers,” said Weir. “It’s a busy time. Those type of guys, you know the value of their off time. So to come here and support me in this event is huge.”
The last time anyone could remember so much action and excitement on a Monday before this event was when Tiger Woods showed up during a record-setting run in 2000.
Jordan looked sharp in a pink golf shirt and easily drew the biggest following while making his way around a Glen Abbey layout that will host the 100th Canadian Open from Thursday to Sunday. Several fans wore his familiar No. 23 jersey and snapped photos as he walked the fairways.
A call from Weir drew the six-time NBA champion to the event.
“I’ve just kind of gotten to know him through athletic circles,” explained Weir. “It was great that he was able to come.”
The charity pro-am also included a handful of PGA Tour players who had been in Canada for less than 12 hours after arriving by charter from the British Open — Anthony Kim, Luke Donald, Camilo Villegas, Mark Calcavecchia and Trevor Immelman.
Fred Couples, another popular player, also briefly participated but suffered a back injury while bending over to pick up his ball. The injury may force him to withdraw from the event.
That would be a hit for a field that will feature just eight of the top 30 players in the FedExCup standings.
There were plenty of familiar faces at Weir’s inaugural Monday charity event, the latest addition to a Canadian Open week that has been revamped since RBC became the title sponsor in 2007.
Costner’s band Modern West will perform here on Thursday evening and he was a promising a better performance on the stage than on the course. The American actor is a 14-handicapper — something that often surprises fans who remember him from the popular golf movie ‘Tin Cup.’
“You know, this movie ‘Tin Cup’ practically ruined my life,” said Costner. “The few times I actually do play golf it feels like it’s in front of a billion people. I don’t really go practice, I don’t play unless a friend asks me.
“It’s a great game but it has never been my particular passion so people are gigantically disappointed (when they find out I’m not good).”