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Weir All Friends Here

New Jersey Devils' goaltender Martin Brodeur played a lot of golf and signed plenty of autographs at the Mike Weir Charity Classic.

July 19, 2010

By Laury Livsey, PGA TOUR Staff

ETOBICOKE, Ontario, Canada—Golf fans had quite the dilemma Monday at the Mike Weir Charity Classic. With an 11 a.m. shotgun start, those who made a day of it at St. George’s Golf and Country Club could go to the first tee and watch the eponymous host tee off. Another option would be to wander to No. 13 and see Toronto Maple Leaf  captain Dion Phaneuf begin his day. There was New Jersey Devils’ goaltender Martin Brodeur and his group starting on No. 18, three-time PGA TOUR winner Camilo Villegas on No. 14, Canadian football start Damon Allen beginning on No. 9 and actor Samuel L. Jackson on the 17th hole.

Or fans could stand on No. 1 and wait for all the players to come through, which a lot of people did—starting with the tournament host.

While Weir may have drawn the biggest crowds, Jackson drew the laughs at the second-annual event that benefits the Mike Weir Foundation, the RBC Canadian Open’s national charity partner.

Prior to his round, someone asked Jackson, known for a tough-guy persona in many of his movie roles, if he would reprise that sort of role Monday.

“Come on. I’m a nice guy,” he said, shaking his head. “I’m smiling and signing as many autographs as I can.” Proving his point, he made a “Snakes on a Plane” reference and talked about practicing his golf swing with a light saber when the cameras weren’t rolling on the set of “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.” But he didn’t mention his work as Ray Taylor in “Jurassic Park.” In that movie, agitated when he couldn’t log onto a computer as dinosaurs raged around him, Jackson’s Taylor hollered out, “Pleeeease. . . I hate this hacker crap!”

No matter how bad his, or other’s golf shots may be, rest assured that movie line had to do with the guys who program computers and nothing to do with golf or the people who play the sport.

In Jackson’s world, hate and golf definitely do not go together.

Jackson’s hail-fellow-well-met attitude even made its way to Brodeur, who may be from Montreal, and he may be a member of the rival New Jersey Devils, but he’s still a Canadian who plays hockey. That puts him in pretty high regard with Toronto-area golf and hockey fans—especially when the NHL season is still months away. Everybody seemed pleased Brodeur was in town, and nobody worried about the possibility of Brodeur shutting out the home team at Maple Leaf Gardens on a cold winter night. It also didn’t hurt that Brodeur, who many consider the best goalie of all time, seemed more than happy to be in Maple Leaf country.

“For us hockey players, we have our summers off, so something like this is an easy thing to do. When Mike calls me up in the middle of the winter and says, ‘Oh, Marty, do you think you’ll be available to come to my tournament?’ I’m like, ‘Are you kidding? This is going to be a blast,’” Brodeur says. “And by the same token, you’re helping so many different people in different ways through charity.”

This sort of activity is nothing new to Brodeur. Each summer, he hosts the Martin Brodeur Golf Classic in Montreal, with this year’s event benefiting juvenile diabetes, a disease affecting both Brodeur’s mother and a brother.

“We show up to tournaments like this, and [the fans] get to see us, yes. But there is also money raised because so many people are supporting the event. It’s such a little thing for us to do,” says Brodeur, who admits he plays golf every day during the offseason. “So I try to do as much as I can.”

With help from people like Brodeur playing in this tournament, Weir’s foundation has raised more than $5 million for children’s wellness since its inception, with 60 percent of that amount coming in the past six years. And the Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive came into existence when the Mike Weir Foundation, the Children’s Miracle Network and the National Golf Course Owners Association Canada came together with a goal to raise $10 million for children’s healthcare through treatment and research.

Each year, because of tournaments like the one Weir hosted Monday, the $10-million goal comes closer to being a reality.

“It’s been a great day,” said Weir, who missed the cut at last week’s British Open and traveled back to his native country early to prepare for his charity event and the RBC Canadian Open that begins Thursday. “We’ve had a great turnout, not only by the TOUR guys but by the celebs. The crowds have been great. We’ll see what the final numbers are tonight when we finish with the auction items and all that stuff to see how much money we raise.”

Besides a Paul Casey autographed driver, a Masters pin flag signed by Fred Couples and a signed Steven Stamkos hockey stick, one of the big-ticket items up for auction was a signed Brodeur jersey and a signed Brodeur photo of him—naturally—making a save.

On the 18th fairway as the round wound down, after—OK, let’s go ahead and say it, a pretty bad approach shot that barely got airborne—Brodeur hit his next shot to about 15 feet at the par 4. When the ball landed, Brodeur’s caddie handed him his putter and then ran ahead, retrieved the divot and tossed the chunk of grass to Brodeur. The goaltender could have made the stick-hand save. But he went with the glove instead.

It was a beauty.


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