FARMINGTON -- It's already a win-win situation for Mike Weir and the Utah Open. The question now is, can the former Masters champion make it a win-win-win?
He can if he takes top honors this week at the Oakridge Country Club.
While it's unusual for an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour to set his sights on a state open event like the Sigfried and Jensen Utah Open, the move makes sense both for Weir and the Utah Section of the PGA, which oversees this week's tournament.
For Weir, a Sandy resident and former BYU player, it's a chance to play competitive golf in his home state while working his way back from elbow surgery. For Oakridge and those running the Utah Open, it's an excellent marketing opportunity. After all, it's not everyday a Tour player with more than $27 million in career earnings asks if he can play.
At a news conference Wednesday at Oakridge, Utah Section PGA executive director Scott Whittaker said Weir had an open invitation to the Utah Open, even before he won the 2003 Masters.
"We're glad this year his schedule allowed him to test us out here at Oakridge," Whittaker said.
Weir, who has fallen to No. 1,450 on the Official World Golf Ranking list, missed the cut in all 12 PGA Tour events he has played in this season.
A year ago this month, the left-hander underwent surgery to repair tendons in his right elbow. The injury occurred at Hilton Head S.C. In 2010 and worsened as he attempted to play though it.
"The last two to three months I've been able to ramp up my practice schedule quite a bit," he said. "I've hit a lot of golf balls the last couple months and had no setbacks. I'm really encouraged about that."
Weir said the elbow injury caused him to overcompensate physically in other areas of his swing, which in turn left him with some bad habits. He recently began working with swing coach Grant Waite -- a former Utah Open champ -- to correct those flaws.
"My swing is much more in order," he said. "Now I've just got to sharpen up those little touch shots around the green, and putting."
The Utah Open will run Friday through Sunday and is open to the public free of charge. The tournament will feature a number of Top of Utah professionals and amateurs, including 2011 champ Clay Ogden, of Farmington.
But Weir, 42, figures to be the main attraction, at least in the early going.
He is scheduled to go off the first tee Friday morning at 8:50 a.m.
Before playing in a pro-am event Wednesday afternoon, he had never played at Oakridge or the Utah Open for that matter.
But the native of Brights Grove, Ontario, Canada, said he has felt a strong connection to Utah golf since playing at BYU from 1988-92. Unable to find a groove since the elbow injury, Weir no longer has full-time status on the PGA Tour.
He has plans to play in two upcoming European events starting next week, but wanted to warm up at the Utah Open.
"Given my schedule, I wanted to get some rounds under my belt," Weir said.
Weir said he placed a call to Utah Section PGA operations director Devin Dehlin, who played at the University of Utah the same time Weir was at BYU, and asked about playing.
"I called Devin and he was nice enough to give me a spot," he said.