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Warm welcome home for Weir

©Associated Press
April 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 did not leave Augusta National until almost midnight when friends and family returned 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," he 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 more than 2,500 before heading to the Maple Leafs-Flyers playoff game. He dropped the ceremonial first puck and appeared on a TV segment between periods.

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

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

MASTERS RATINGS: Even with Tiger Woods out of contention, the final round of the Masters had the third-most viewers in its history. About 34.5-million watched at least some of Sunday's telecast on CBS, which aired without commercials because of the flap over Augusta National's all-male membership.

The tournament drew larger audiences in 1997 (43-million) and 2001 (40.1-million); Woods won both years. He tied for 15th as Weir became the first Canadian and the first left-hander to win.

The total audience number was boosted by a longer broadcast because of a playoff between Weir and Len Mattiace. The overnight rating Sunday was 9.3, about a 6 percent decrease. The average overnight rating for Saturday and Sunday was 8.0, a drop of 9 percent.

Sunday's audience peaked with a 12.4 rating from 7-7:15 p.m., during the one-hole playoff. That means 12.4 percent of the country's TV homes tuned in. Overnight ratings measure the 55 largest TV markets, covering about 70 percent of the United States.

In Canada, Global TV's broadcast Sunday drew almost 50 percent more viewers than the final round of the 2002 Masters.

U.S. AMATEUR: Pinehurst's famed No. 2 course will host the 2007 event. It's the first time the United States Golf Association event for the country's best male amateurs will be played in the state since Hal Sutton won it in 1980 at the Country Club of North Carolina. The No. 2 course at Pinehurst resort hosted the 1999 U.S. Open won by the late Payne Stewart and will hold the event again in 2005.

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