A Capital Celebration – CP Women’s Open Preview

Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club

2017 is a year of celebration in the National Capital Region. Marking 150 years since the formation of Canada, festivals and events have dominated the calendar but golfers have their own way to mark the occasion. Among them is one of the biggest events on the LPGA schedule that is not currently a major, the Canadian Pacific (CP) Women’s Open.

The best female golfers in the world will return to Ottawa on August 21-27, 2017 to vie for one of the most coveted titles on tour, one that has been played for since 1973.

“We could not be more excited for the return of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to Ottawa and the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club,” said a Golf Canada representative. “We are proud to add to the nation’s celebration as Canada turns 150. With an outstanding atmosphere and a passionate golfing community, we are confident Ottawa will be the perfect backdrop for the 45th playing of Canada’s National Women’s Open Championship.”

The Event

The roots of the CP Women’s Open trace back to the La Canadienne, the LPGA event first held in 1973 and won by Canadian icon Jocelyne Bourassa at the Montreal Municipal Golf Club.

From 1979 until 2000, the event was considered a Major Championship on the LPGA Tour. During that time, the event visited the National Capital Region twice, in 1994 at the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club, and in 2000, at the Royal Ottawa Golf Club in Gatineau, Quebec,

It would return to the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club again in 2008.

Since the inception some of the most revered players in the sport have raised the trophy. They have included Hall of Fame member like JoAnne Carner, Pat Bradley, Meg Mallon, Juli Inkster, and Laura Davies.

To date the victors have hailed from some eleven nations.

Most recently the winners have also comprised players in top echelon including Michelle Wie (2010) Lydia Ko (2012/13, 2015), and Ariya Jutanugarn, the current titleholder.

The Club/Course

Set on 225 lush acres in the south end of the city, The Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club has welcomed guests and members to its permanent site since 1908. It first served as a Hunt and Equestrian Club, added Auto club to its profile after World War I, and brought golf to the forefront in 1920 with the addition of a Willie Park, Jr. golf course.

The course rose to National fame in 1932 as the host site of the Canadian Open, and welcomed the Canadian Amateur in 1937. That event would return in 1960 and 1970.

In 1960 the club hosted the America’s Cup matches, which brought Jack Nicklaus to enjoy the course.

The club’s affiliation with the LPGA began in 1994 when Martha Nause shot nine under par to win what was then called the duMaurier Classic, now the CP Women’s Open.

Subsequently the club hosted the LPGA again in 2008, drawing more than 68,000 fans for the week, despite some weather interruptions and high heat.

In 2012 the club decided to improve their course once again and enlisted the help of Dr. Michael Hurdzan to create a new design for the South and West courses. His efforts, along with an impressive new practice facility, debuted in 2015.

Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club Superintendent Eric Ruhs, who oversaw the golf course during both the 1994 and 2008 Opens, says players will be very pleased at the course they will play this year.

“I think the players will find more consistency in the greens,” says the highly respected industry veteran. “I think pinnable locations and strategies into the green is going to be a lot more fair, a lot more fun. I think shot strategy off the tee has been enhanced as well.”

The Players

Defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn leads a stellar list of early commitments set to challenge for the $2.25 million USD purse, one of the largest prizes on tour. A six-time winner on the LPGA Tour, the Thailand native climbed to No. 1 in the Rolex World Rankings following her victory at the 2017 Manulife LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ont.

Three-time CP Women’s Open champion Lydia Ko of New Zealand will be searching for a record fourth Canadian Women’s Open title. Ko’s three Canadian titles (2012, 2013 and 2015) ties the 20-year-old with Meg Mallon and Pat Bradley for most victories at Canada’s National Women’s Open. A 14-time winner on the LPGA Tour, Ko held the No. 1 world ranking for 85 weeks prior to Jutanugarn.

So Yeon Ryu, who won the inaugural CP Women’s Open in 2014, will also compete at Ottawa Hunt. Jutanugarn and Ryu are among nine of the top players who have confirmed their intention to compete in the nation’s capital later this summer. Other commitments include In Gee Chun, Christie Kerr, Canada’s Brooke Henderson, Inbee Park, Anna Nordqvist, Sei Young Kim and Sung Hyn Park.

No player will generate more excitement this August in Ottawa than Canadian sensation Henderson of nearby Smiths Falls, Ont., who will compete in her seventh career National Open, this time in front of hometown crowds at Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club. The graduate of Golf Canada’s National Team program is a former world No. 1 amateur and represented Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where she finished T7.

“I’m proud to have an affiliation with the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club and to be able to play the CP Women’s Open here will truly be special,” Henderson shared. “It’s a beautiful golf course, my home club, and I feel it sets up well for my game. It gives me a lot of joy that so much support from this area and this event will go and help the kids at CHEO.”

A proud ambassador for CP, Henderson will lead the Canadian contingent into Ottawa as part of the Canada 150 celebration events being hosted in the nation’s capital. Canadian Olympian Alena Sharp of Hamilton will look to improve on her top-five finish at the 2016 CP Women’s Open as she competes in her national Open for the 13th time. Canadian Golf Hall of Fame honoured member and CP ambassador Lorie Kane, a four-time winner on the LPGA Tour will be competing in Canada’s National Open Championship for a record 27th consecutive time. LPGA Tour members Jennifer Ha of Calgary and Maude-Aimée LeBlanc of Sherbrooke, Que., are also set to compete and will be joined by several more Canadians to be announced in the coming weeks.

Jutanugarn, Ko and Ryu will be among 10 past champions competing this year along with Brittany Lincicome (2011), Michelle Wie (2010), Suzann Pettersen (2009), Cristie Kerr (2007) and Katherine Kirk who won the event in 2008 when Ottawa Hunt last hosted the stars of the LPGA Tour.

The field of 156 golfers teeing it up at Ottawa Hunt is expected to again represent arguably the strongest field on the LPGA Tour, carrying over from the 2016 event which welcomed 96 of the top 100 players on the LPGA Tour money list.

The Charity

Now in its fourth year, CP’s community investment program, CP Has Heart is committed to raising funds in support of children’s heart health in the host community of the CP Women’s Open. The 2017 edition of Canada’s National Women’s Open is proud to have the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) as the beneficiary charity.

The CP Has Heart fundraising activities tied to the CP Women’s Open and CHEO are part of CP’s overarching “Beautiful Hearts” campaign across the Ottawa region which will also run during the CFL regular season, playoffs and Grey Cup

The “Beautiful Hearts” campaign will support the refurbishment of facilities that patients use every day at CHEO and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and celebrate the resiliency and spirit of the human heart.

“At CP, we take great pride in our history of connecting Canada and are thrilled to be in Ottawa for this celebration connecting Canadians with the world’s best golfers – including our CP Ambassadors Brooke Henderson and Lorie Kane – and connecting CHEO with opportunities to further its important work,” said Keith Creel, CP President and CEO. “Our family of 12,000 railroaders is excited about the tournament, but more than that, we are excited to leave a charitable legacy in the nation’s capital. CP Has Heart’s ‘Beautiful Hearts’ campaign will bring crucial support to both CHEO and the Ottawa Heart Institute this year.”

Each year, CHEO touches the lives of more than 500,000 infants, children and youth from Eastern and Northern Ontario, Western Quebec and Nunavut. To better care for these patients, CHEO will be embarking on a $1.8 million project to upgrade the hospital’s Catheterization Lab and Interventional Suite. A redesigned space, specialized equipment and pediatric specific training will be critically important elements in the health and wellness of CHEO’s patients.

Through August 27, 2017, CP will match all donations made towards pediatric cardiac care and research at cheoheart.com. CP will also donate $5,000 to CHEO for every birdie made by a player on the 15th hole at Ottawa Hunt during this year’s championship. The 15th hole will also feature the 15th Green CP Fan Zone where golf fans can donate $20 to upgrade their grounds pass to access a covered greenside bleacher and viewing area with all proceeds to benefit CHEO.

Since 2014, the CP Has Heart charity campaign has raised more than $4.5 million in support of children’s heart health.

Kids 17-and-under Get in Free…
Golf Canada and CP are committed to offering a fan friendly, family event with the CP Women’s Open. To introduce more juniors to the sport, children aged 17-and-under get FREE admission to the CP Women’s Open for the entire week.