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Canadian LPGA star Lorie Kane (Golf Canada)

Canadian LPGA star Lorie Kane

(Golf Canada)

Lori Kane not ready to hang up her clubs Add to ...

She may be 49 and in her 19th season on the LPGA Tour, but Lorie Kane isn’t anywhere close to retirement.

The popular Charlottetown native will still draw big galleries while playing at next week’s Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in London, Ont. – she’s the tournament ambassador, the one asked to visit children in a London Hospital when she was in town recently. And longer term, she’s hoping to compete for a spot on Canada’s 2016 Olympic golf team.

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Such optimism isn’t unusual from the positive-minded Kane, who has four LPGA Tour victories and 99 top-10 finishes in her career, and currently sits 23rd on the tour’s career money list with nearly $7-million in earnings. But she will be a long-shot to contender in London. She is 13 years removed from her last LPGA triumph, and has made the cut in only three of the 10 LPGA events she has played this season. She plays many Legends Tour events these days, finishing the 2013 season as the 45-and-older circuit’s top money-winner with a total of $103,333.

Still, she continues to hone her swing under Sean Foley, who’s best known for his work with Tiger Woods, in hopes of staying competitive. She also lost three dress sizes in recent years after following the Weight Watchers program and an ambitious exercise regimen under a personal fitness trainer. She marvels at the improvement she feels in her hips, both of which gave her great pain five years ago.

“I’m over the moon with how I’m feeling now, and I just need the results to match up on the golf course,” said Kane by phone from Orlando, where she’s based. “I never like to look back, but I wonder how much better I could have been had I decided to do this 15 or 20 years ago. I was very happy where I was 20 years ago and I’ve had lots of success, but I’ll be better off for the effort I’ve put in with my fitness.”

Golf will be included in the 2016 Summer Games for the first time since 1904. It will include men’s and women’s individual events, which will each have 60 players each. Those players will be determined largely by their standing on the world golf rankings as of July 11, 2016, but no country may have more than four competitors. Countries such as Canada that don’t have more than two golfers in the world’s top 15 will get a maximum of two entrants. Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont. (197th in the women’s world golf rankings) and Alena Sharp of Hamilton (210th) would represent Canada if the Rio Olympics began now.

“I certainly hope to be one of them,” said Kane, who is currently ranked 334th. “I know my form hasn’t showed the results I would like to see, but I have time to step it up. It will be really exciting to see what unfolds over the next two years of qualification and to see who is playing well and how we’re represented.”

Despite the age gap, Kane has forged a bond with Canadian golf’s rising star – 16-year-old Henderson, who lost in the 36-hole final of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship last weekend.

“Brooke and I have become good friends,” said Kane. “She sought me out. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and watching her career blossom.”

Both women will play the CP Women’s Open next week at London Hunt and Country Club. Kane has teamed up with CP on an initiative to raise money for children’s cardiac care at the Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre. For every $30 ticket purchased for the tournament, CP will donate $100 to the children’s health foundation.

“I visited the hospital and saw these tiny beds and children, and the visit made a real impact on me, listening to the doctors and nurses talk about what can be done to help keep these kids alive and help them thrive,” said Kane. “I often help raise money through charity, but rarely get to visit and see where the money is going. I jumped at this chance to leave a legacy in a community that will last long after the LPGA has played there.”

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