Captains Weir and Furyk preparing for Presidents Cup in Montreal
Canadian golfing legend Mike Weir is counting the days until he can again hear the roar of a Presidents Cup crowd.
Weir, from Brights Grove, Ont., was doing site inspections and meeting key organizers of the 2024 Presidents Cup at Royal Montreal Golf Club on Tuesday. He said that although the 12-on-12 tournament will feature some of the best players on the PGA Tour, the atmosphere is on an entirely different level than the top men's circuit.
"There's roars, there's not just pops," said Weir, who is the first Canadian to captain the International team. "It's a whole different experience, not only for the players, but the fans, the fans are more engaged.
"It becomes more like a hockey game. There's chanting, there's songs being sung out there."
The Presidents Cup sees 12 players from the United States face 12 players from around the world, excluding Europe. Because the team-based event has significantly fewer groups on the course at any given time, the crowds follow players from hole to hole, creating a lively atmosphere with thousands of people surrounding every tee box and green.
The first hole at a Presidents Cup is especially impressive, with players arriving at the tee through a tunnel with an announcer and video packages heralding their arrival.
"The first tee experience is incredible," said Weir. "There's music playing as players come out through the tunnel, there's a big screen up on the first tee, and you can see the opening tee shots go down and the camera pans with it.
"People cheer when the home team hits the fairway and people jeer when the ball goes in the rough and it's a totally different experience for the fans and the players in a team competition."
Weir and Jim Furyk, as the non-playing captains of the International and American teams, are responsible for almost every detail for their squads.
Although the first eight players selected to each team are taken automatically based on their PGA Tour rankings, Weir and Furyk will get to choose the remaining four players themselves. They're also responsible for decking out the team cabins where the players and their spouses prepare for their matches, the design of the team uniforms and bags, as well as when and how their teams practice.
Weir and Furyk have to balance these responsibilities with playing on the PGA Tour Champions, the senior circuit for men's golf.
"As soon as I accepted the position I knew my own game would on the back burner for a couple of years," said Weir, who missed Champions Tour events last week and this week so he could focus on preparing for the Presidents Cup. "This team and the Presidents Cup, for me have always been a huge part of my career.
"Being the captain is priority No. 1 in the golf world for me, and my own game is second."
Royal Montreal Golf Club is hosting the Presidents Cup from Sept. 24 to 29, 2024. It's the second time the oldest golf club in North America will host the event. Both Weir and Furyk played in the 2007 edition of the tournament.
"The golf course really hasn't changed that much since '07," said Furyk in the midst of his day in Montreal. "They're going to add a little yardage to it, but it still looks very similar. It's withstood the test of time, for sure.
"The event's grown in stature, as far as the number of eyes, the television outlets, the worldwide appeal. I think the game of golf has kind of grown worldwide as well."
Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., and Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., were on the International team at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., last year, the first time two Canadians played in the event. The United States beat the Internationals 17.5-12.5 and Furyk said that his team will be ready to play in hostile territory when the tournament heads north of the border.
"We're the away team so a lot of fans will be pulling for the International team," said Furyk. "I think as a player, you enjoy both scenarios, right?
"You enjoy being the home team, you enjoy support, but it's nice to have an away game once in a while and play the villain role."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 12, 2023.