Back to defend his 2021 Shaw Charity Classic victory, Doug Barron is hoping a few tips from a Canadian golfing icon will help him in that quest.
Barron said he has received some recent advice from 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir on how to better play sand shots.
“He actually gave me a bunker lesson yesterday, so that was nice,” said Barron before playing a practice round on Thursday. “He came out here in the morning, so I snagged him for a bit for a little bunker lesson.”
Barron shot three straight rounds of 6-under 64 at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club at last year’s event to beat Steve Flesch by two strokes.
The 53-year-old golfer from Memphis, Tenn., played last year’s second round with Weir, 52, of Brights Grove, Ont., and was impressed with the level of support both players received from the fans.
“Mike Weir and I are great friends and [the fans] were super nice to me when I played with him. Obviously, they were pulling for him,” said Barron, who also played with Canadian Stephen Ames, a former Calgary resident, in the final round. “I love the golf course, I love the people and I’m excited to play golf up here again. The weather seems to be awesome. Everything’s good about this place.”
The two-time PGA Tour Champions winner will start Friday’s opening round in a group with Spanish golfer Miquel Angel Jimenez and Irish PGA Tour Champions rookie Padraig Harrington, who is currently second in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup standings.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Barron. “You always hope that. Hopefully they’re doing something good or you’re doing something good. Yeah, it helps.”
Whether he can continue his hot streak of shooting three straight rounds in the mid-60s remains to be seen.
“It’s going to take those three 64s,” said Barron with a laugh when asked what it will take to defend his title. “At this point, I wouldn’t say the scores would be that low. The course is playing a little longer this year if you ask me.”
Weir made his debut at the event last year’s and opened with 7-under 63 before subsequent rounds of 70 and 68 dropped him back to finish in a four-way tie for ninth place overall.
He will start the opening round this year in a grouping with former Shaw Charity Classic champion Fred Couples (2014) along with Jerry Kelly, who’s third in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.
“I always look forward to playing with Freddy and Jerry,” said Weir. “Fred’s a big sports fan and so’s Jerry. It’ll be a lot of hockey talk, I’m sure. It’s good to see Freddy back and playing. Hopefully he’s healthy.”
The eight time PGA Tour winner, who also won once on the Champions circuit last season, would love nothing more than to see Couples and Kelly shoot low rounds on Friday.
“If the group gets going and we make birdies, the group can kind of feed off on that,” he said. “Hopefully we all get off to a good start and get rolling.”
Couples is one of four World Golf Hall of Famers at the event along with Mark O’Meara, Colin Montgomerie and Vijay Singh
The golf legend who turned 62 last October believes he can contend to win the title at one of his favourite tournaments.
“I just don’t play to play,” said. “I think I can compete and if I can compete, then we’ll see what happens on Sunday.
“I love this tournament. I love the course. I grew up in Seattle, so most of the courses in Seattle look just like this, so that helps. The greens, they’re perfect, probably the best they’ve ever been, so that’s why I like it. It just reminds me of being home.”
The field also includes a pair of other Shaw Charity Classic winners in Carlos Franco (2016) and Jeff Maggert (2015). Among the 73 competitors at the event are 10 PGA Tour major champions and 15 Champions Tour major winners.
In addition to Weir and Ames, three other Canadians will tee it up in Calgary.
Toronto’s David Morland IV will make his third straight appearance at the event, while Dennis Hendershott, of Brantford, Ont., and Alan McLean of London, Ont., will also be competing.