She may not currently be Canada’s top player on the LPGA Tour but nobody can argue that Lorie Kane is still not the ambassador for women’s golf in Canada. After all she is a member of The Order of Canada but it is not the only obligation that keeps her dedicated to Canadian Golf. “It’s always special to come home,” she has stated time and time again and she has reiterated that even more now that the CN Canadian Women’s Open has been reborn.
Three years ago this tournament was waning in stature after losing its major sponsor due to strict tobacco marketing regulations. Now, as proven once again by the major announcement on June 11th that the 2009 tournament will become the 3rd richest on the LPGA Tour thanks to title sponsor CN, there seems to be no limit on where this tournament can go. And Lorie Kane, as both a Canadian and CN spokesperson could not be prouder.
Kane was among a group of LPGA pros at the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club yesterday, attending a corporate outing and getting an early look at the venue that will host them on August 11-17th. They also unexpectedly learned some major news from CN President Hunter Harrison concerning a purse increase. In 2009 only the Evian Masters and the U.S. Women’s Open (either at or over $3 million USD) will have a bigger purse than the CN Canadian Women’s Open. Canada’s premier championship will sport a (USD) $2.75 million dollar payout.
This year’s tournament will feature a $2.25 million dollar purse but that is just a start to what should attract ALL the top players to the nation’s capital. “It is just a world class event and it feels like a major to everyone, not just us Canadians,” said Kane when we caught up to her after the scheduled press conferences. Tournament Director Sean VanKestern, in a press conference last week, told us that there is a distinct possibility that barring injury or other circumstance that the top 50 pros might all make it to Ottawa. That would surpass the 45 of the top 50 that showed up in Edmonton last year.
Kane is currently not in that top 50 but she has great memories of Ottawa having won on the Canadian Women’s Tour in the capital along with strong play at the 2000 duMaurier (despite a weak final round) on top of her Rideau Hall investiture. Kane also played the 1994 duMaurier Classic at the Ottawa Hunt before she was an LPGA Tour member. “I remember how proud I was to be here playing in the tournament,” said Kane. ”To walk the fairways today, it brought back a lot of positive, good memories.”
With her game sharpening of late (including an opening round of 66 at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship) look for Kane to make some more Ottawa memories this August. Of course, with her personality and how she handles her role as unofficial host, it’s a guarantee that Kane will make a lot of fans happy by week’s end whether she plays well or not. But it wouldn’t upset too many people to see her as the central figure at the final trophy presentation.