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Lorie Kane

Lorie Kane

Lorie Kane says home-grown winner not that far off Add to ...

The last time a Canadian won Canada's National Women's Open golf championship was 1973. Jocelyne Bourassa beat Sandra Haynie and Judy Rankin in a playoff.

Bourassa was one of eight Canadians in the field that year at Club de golf municipal de Montreal in what was then known as La Canadienne. This year, 20 Canadians will tee it up at Royal Mayfair Golf and Country Club trying to end that 40 year winless streak. While that equates to just under 10 percent of the field, it will be a tough task for any of them to break through and end the home-grown drought.

Lorie Kane's tie for third in 2001 and Dawn Coe Jones with a solo third place effort in 1993 are the closest anyone has come. A.J. Eathorne did get her hands on the trophy in 2011 as a caddie for winner Brittany Lincicome.

Collectively, the six Canadians who have played regularly on the LPGA Tour this season - Kane, Sara-Maude Juneau, Maude-Aimee Leblanc, Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Alena Sharp and Stephanie Sherlock - have combined for four career Tour victories. All of those wins belong to Kane.

It's not that the talent isn't there. This week's field boasts a lineup that includes the top ranked amateur in Canada (Brooke Henderson), several top players on the LPGA's developmental Symetra Tour (Sue Kim, Samantha Richdale) and freshly minted pros with impressive collegiate resumes (Jennifer Kirby, Maude-Aimee Leblanc, Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Juneau and Nicole Vandermade).

"It's not an easy transition," said Kane, one of the biggest boosters when it comes to women's golf in this country.

"I think some players need to understand what balance means in jumping into the pro ranks. I think as Canadians we might take just a little extra time to get where we're going.  But in the end we'll be there in the long haul."

Some would question the idea of giving assistance - be it financial or otherwise - to a professional. The argument being, as non-athletes, we would not be afforded the same courtesy when we begin our professional careers.

Then again, you and I don't go to work each week alongside the top 50 people in our chosen profession.

"We're trying to really come up with a plan to help young kids get involved in the game, keep them into the game, keep them part of Team Canada as an amateur and then encourage them and support them through the first stages of being a young professional," explained Kane. "Some might say, well, why is it our job to help support a young professional in their endeavor, because once you turn pro you turn pro. But my feeling is it just continues to circle."

As for her own future, Kane says even with the emerging young talent in this country, don't expect her to step aside anytime soon.

"I don't see an end to anything that I do," said the 48-year-old. "I can only see day to day and trying to get better.  If it takes another 10 years, I'm not planning to leave any time soon."

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CELEBRATING CN: This weekend's tournament will mark the final one for title sponsor CN.

Earlier this year, the company announced it would transition away from sponsorship of the Canadian Women's Open and the Canadian Women's Tour while continuing to focus its efforts on Canada's national junior golf programs at the youth and grassroots level.

While that has raised some questions about the future of this LPGA event, Lorie Kane says this week should be about celebrating what CN has done for women's golf in this country.

"(In 2006) we had our first CN Canadian Women's Open, and prior to that we were struggling to gain hold of a title sponsor who understood what we could help them do and grow their business and ours, as well.

"The LPGA has grown leaps and bounds since 2006, and the dollars that have been raised for charity and children's hospitals will surpass, I'm pretty sure, the goal to get over $10 million.

"I know how important it's been to our Tour from a business standpoint and giving us an opportunity to help grow the game in this country."

In the past seven years, the CN Miracle Match program has raised more than $8.2 million for children’s hospitals.

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MOVING ON UP: A year ago Inbee Park walked away from the CN Canadian Women's Open with the winner's cheque in her hand despite the fact she did not finish atop the leaderboard.

Lydia Ko took home the trophy and the honour of being the youngest player ever to win an LPGA event but she left Vancouver without the first place prize money due to her amateur status.

"I had good memories of the Canadian Open where I finished second but got a first place check," said Park, who comes into the event off a two-week rest. "It would be nice if I could actually get the trophy and the first place check this time."

Park's rivals can take some solace in the fact that, even though the South Korean is having an unbelievable year on the LPGA Tour, the Canadian Open has not been to her liking. In five appearances prior to last year, her best result was a tie for 21st in 2008. In 2007, the last time the tournament was played at Royal Mayfair, she finished tied for 26th.

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MY SUMMER VACATION: For most 16 year olds, a successful summer is one spent relaxing with friends, likely at the beach. For Lydia Ko, her summer "vacation" has included playing in more LPGA events.

When Ko tees off on Thursday as the defending champion of the CN Canadian Women's Open, it will mark her 10th LPGA tournament this year. She's had four top-10 results including a third place finish at the Women's Australian Open.

"I've been getting a whole new experience," said the Korean-born New Zealander. "I've been really enjoying it. It doesn't feel like I've played 10 already, but yeah, it's been really cool to have that opportunity to play this many."

"I would never have imagined myself to have flown to Scotland [for the Women's British Open] and then go and do some sightseeing, going to London, watching some theater. It's definitely a whole different life as a teenager."

And because she's still an amateur, Ko is prohibited from claiming any winnings from those tournaments, which would put her just outside the top 20 on the LPGA's money list.

"I don't really think about money," added Ko. "I just hit the ball. My parents are the ones that are thinking about money and expenses."

 

 

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