Sunday, August 24
Welcome to day four of the Canadian Pacific Women's Open in London, Ontario. Championship Sunday at the London Hunt & Country Club is the culmination of over 450 rounds of golf to decide our champion and distribute $2.25 million in prize money. Of the 87 players who made the cut, only one will hoist the trophy and receive that winner's cheque. The final 18 holes for some got underway bright and early. Well, early anyway. This morning brings overcast skies and more wind than the rest of the week combined. Today's 7:05 seems a little less welcoming than others this week. But it is the last chance to move up and increase that payday.
Of special interest to the Canadian fans was the progress of Sue Kim, Jennifer Kirby, Jennifer Ha and Brooke Henderson. From all the introductions I heard today, the noise for Brooke was likely the loudest. She was indeed the top Canadian and top amateur at this year's event. Another feather in her ever-growing plume of accolades. Some day soon the drought of a Canadian winner in this event will end. But that day would not be today.
My first foray out on to the course after the customery checks of the range and practice green, is at 9:35 to watch Jennifer Johnson, Pat Hurst and Xi Yu Lin. At the London Hunt & Country Club, when you get to the 1st green, you suddenly find holes everywhere to check out. From the 1st, you can go to the 2nd tee, the 9th tee, the 3rd tee or the 18th tee. Also within sight are the 8th green, the 2nd green, the 7th green, the 4th green and the 17th green. Needless to say when action is the requirement, you don't have to go very far to find it. The only limit is the number of groups on the course.
In the next couple hours, I was able to catch play from Lydia Ko, Morgan Pressel, Belen Mozo, Yani Tseng, Sarah Kemp, Thidapa Suwannapura, Brittany Lang, Mi Hyang Lee and Karrie Webb, who treated us to a hole-in-one on the second hole. I have seen aces before, but they are still quite entertaining to see. For one thing the reactions and celebrations are never the same. Karrie retrieved the ball from the cup and gave it to someone in the gallery. Quite the momento.
After a short break for something to eat, later groups were starting to invade the cluster of holes. Suzann Pettersen, Sydnee Michaels and Kim Kaufman. Danielle Kang, Cristie Kerr and Pornanong Phatlum. Then the final two groups came by. Inbee Park, Anna Nordqvist and Brittany Lincicome followed by So Yeon Ryu, Na Yeon Choi and Azahara Munoz. The selection of players all within a minute or two walking distance made for some outstanding golf action. Staying at the par 3, 8th hole, the last 12 players to tee off all came by in succession using different clubs, ball flights and strategies. There are a million ways to score a birdie on the LPGA, and these players demonstrate it.
Before I knew it most of the players had gone through the front nine part of the cluster and it was time for me to go down the 9th hole to exit it. Then watch the tee offs on the 10th hole as the back nine disappeared away from the clubhouse. Not to worry. I knew where they were going. I just chose to go to the 14th green and await them to arrive. With my preferred viewing position, I could repeat the exercise from the front nine once more. When the groups had gone through the 14th, I changed location to the last par 3 on the course, the 17th hole. The method to my madness was the first group that I watched go through 14 would be at 17 by the time I moved there. Granted, I was missing some holes in between, but I was staying in contact with multiple groups. Watching them all play the same holes was also another way to compare their styles and approaches to the game.
It just kept increasing in magnitude as the scores got lower and lower. Then it was time to walk down the 18th hole with the final group. There was no surprise, no shock ending. Back on Thursday, So Yeon Ryu had staked her claim as being the class of the field this week. On Sunday afternoon, it was still her claim to make. A two stroke victory was hers in the Canadian Pacific Womens Open. Congratulations to her. Congratulations to the London Hunt & Country Club. Congratulations to the City of London, Ontario. Congratulations to Canadian Pacific on their first year as title sponsor. I leave you now, London. I thank you. And I thank every one of you for reading my tournament experiences. See you next year in Vancouver.
Saturday, August 23
It's Saturday at the London Hunt & Country Club. The best female golfers in the world are here. There is $2.25 million in prize money up for grabs. All these factors combine to create one defined day. Welcome to Moving Day. Traditionally, the third round of a tournament is the time players make their move to rise up the ladder. You have to be within striking distance for that final round if you want a chance, because, this is golf after all. Almost anything is possible. And this is the account of some of the things that did happen today in my corner of LPGA world.
After some unusual events at the conclusion of Friday's round, the cut line was set at -1 and 87 players made it in for the weekend. Saturday morning brings a reprieve for some who thought they had missed the final two rounds. With it comes a lingering fog over parts of the course, well past 8 o'clock in the morning. There is a little breeze today, not overly warming at this early hour. But it is what it is, the golf will be played. With the re-alignment regarding the cut, there are some interesting groups to be followed all through the day. My first choice for the day is the threesome of Hee Young Park, Kristy McPherson and Carlota Ciganda at 8:30. In the first two holes, Hee Young opens a two stroke gap on her playing mates. First via a par versus two bogeys, then with a birdie versus two pars. The 4th hole, the 482 yard par 5, made another difference. One eagle, one par and one bogey. The 7th hole, the 550 yard par 5, is used for drive distance measurements. Good thing for Carlota. She drove the ball 299 yards. Alas, only a par resulted. Back and forth they went for the front nine. At the start of the round, they all were at -2. At the end of the 9th hole, Kristy and Hee Young were still at -2. Carlota was now at -4. But I bid these ladies farewell as they headed to the back nine.
I had no desire to repeat yesterday's experience of not having lunch until mid-afternoon. So an early lunch would be to enable me to circuit the course this afternoon. A repeat cycle of a Ranch Chicken and Bacon Panini, with potato chips, hit the spot quite nicely. There are multiple concession locations all around London Hunt & Country Club, as well as the clubhouse dining choices. No matter where or when, you will find something that works. And with that necessity taken care of, it's time to hit the course again.
I'm back out there to catch Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson and Jennifer Rosales on the back nine. The 10th hole showed its teeth once more, this time for Lexi. Her second shot to lay up in front of the water protecting the green had a little too much on it, getting the ball submerged in the process. The end result was a bogey. Which was promptly recovered on the next hole with a birdie. The course was just not as receptive to most today as it had been the first two rounds. Many players fought over the same one or two strokes for most of their rounds. At the conclusion of the 14th hole for this threesome, I decided to head back to the 10th tee to get closer to the lead groups.
When I got back to the 10th tee, I latched on to the threesome of Laura Davies, Inbee Park and Azahara Munoz. This was quite an interesting little stint. As the back nine began, Laura was at -6, Inbee at -8 and Aza at -10. The first activity was all three players and all three caddies searching for a drive in the woods. It was found, but deemed unplayable. A drop was taken and onward the game went. By the time the par 5 had ended, Aza and Inbee had pars while Laura had a double bogey. The 11th hole led to bordies for Aza and Inbee with a par for Laura. This type of pattern would prove repetitive in nature. By the time I let them carry on without me to the 15th hole, Aza was at -13, Inbee at -11 and Laura at -3. They had all started the round at -7.
Next I decided it was time to hit the 18th green and watch everyone come in to finish. There is no better way to see as many players as you can at work. It also helps when you have some pictures from earlier in the week that need an autograph. I also managed to find time to offer congratulations to the two hole-in-one scorers so far this week, Karin Sjodin and Jessica Korda. When all was said and done on Moving Day, there were some familiar faces, some new faces, some faces to be remembered and many faces who can't wait for Championship Sunday. Neither can I.
Friday, August 22
It's Day Two at the 2014 Canadian Pacific Women's Open! I am your blogger on site, Glen, and here's what happened in my little corner of the LPGA world today. As the clock hits 7 in the morning, I find myself on the shuttle bus once more heading back to London Hunt & Country Club. The number of passengers on this early shuttle are growing steadily by the day. Upon arrival, once the essential task of getting coffee is taken care of, it's time to check the driving range. By 7:30, it is a full house, including the three Canadians in my selected group this morning. Today is the day every player is trying to make that cut, wherever it will be on the entrants list - seventy (and ties) being the magic number. Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Jennifer Kirby and Brooke Henderson were all within the cut after the first round, but today will decide if they stay there to play the weekend and get a piece of that $2.25 million purse.
8:28 is the tee off time on the 10th hole and off we go! What a difference a day makes. Bogeys were a rare sight yesterday, but not so early on today. But just as quickly, the trend was reversed again. After the 12th hole, three holes into the round, Jennifer was at -5, Brooke was at -3 and Rebecca was at -1. Everyone seemed to be looking to entertain the gallery with bunker play from time to time. Some excellent up-and-downs saved some big pars. As the trio neared the turn, the difficulty in securing favorable scores was being tested. As the group went off the 1st tee, the scores after 27 holes were now Jennifer at -4, Brooke at -2 and Rebecca at +1. Things were definitely tightening up.
Almost halfway though the final nine holes to make the cut, the scores were Jennifer at -4, Brooke at -3 and Rebecca at +1. The cut line sat virtually at -1. Meanwhile in the group in front of my selected trio, the leader So Yeon Ryu had managed to play 31 holes and score -15. Also in that group was Anna Nordqvist, in second place at -10. Sometimes, it just doesn't seem like the same course. As the holes wound down, birdie chances would present themselves for all three players time and time again. But converting them was another issue. On the 5th hole, all three players scored par. On the 6th hole, all par. On the 8th hole, all par. On the 7th, Jennifer and Brooke scored a birdie, Rebecca a par. On the 9th, Rebecca scored the birdie, pars for the other two. After 36 holes, the scores were Jennifer at -5, Brooke at -3 and Rebecca at Even. Now it would be up to the rest of the field to set the cut.
There is one thing I can attest to about walking 18 holes before lunch. You get hungry! It was nearly two in the afternoon before I could satisfy my unhappy tummy. But satisfy it I did, courtesy of the concessions at London Hunt & Country Club. Earlier in the week we were hearing doom and gloom forecasts regarding the weather. Well, it appears it's not going to happen. Thursday was rain free, Friday was rain free and the probability for the weekend is a fraction of what it once was. Admittedly, having walked a full round already today, I was a little hesitant about heading out too far again today. Not to worry, there is always something to do. There are the interviews with the players after their rounds at the 9th and 18th greens areas. There is the practice range and putting greens to see who is honing up. Since this event is an annual habit of mine, there are familiar people to catch up with. And, certainly not least if you are so inclined, there is the opportunity to get an autograph or a quick chat with the most accommodating group of professional athletes you will ever find. When it is said "It's different out here", they are not kidding.
By around 4:30 in the afternoon, the cut line had moved to -2. 71 players were inside that line. Top 70 and ties are all that makes the cut. It seemed we were done with things. Until.... one player dropped a stroke taking it to 70 players. Then another player inside the cut had to withdraw. That made everyone at -2 or lower add up to only 69 players. That means the new cut is -1, including everyone with that score. The field for the 2014 Canadian Pacific Women's Open will have 87 players. Now it's down to 36 holes for the cash. I will have my exploits from Saturday for you tomorrow.
Thursday, August 21
Hello LPGA universe and welcome to the 2014 Canadian Pacific Women's Open! This is the inaugural event with Canadian Pacific as the new title sponsor and so far everything has been exactly as it should be. Which is excellent. Just to get it out of the way, my name is Glen and I invite you to share my annual holiday with me here. 2014 is the fifth year I have done this for the LPGA and I thank them for this privilege. Much gratitude to Jennifer Meyer, Molly Gallatin and Nicklaus Parker from the LPGA, as well as Dan Pino from Golf Canada and Brandie Cooper and Doug McKenzie from the London Hunt and Country Club. I enjoy doing this when there are so many skilled people willing to help this amateur reporter.
This year for the annual visit to Canada's championship, the LPGA returns to familiar territory. The London Hunt and Country Club is a legendary club in Canada. Stretching back over 125 years it is known for its events, personalities, tradition and design. A Robert Trent Jones course, renovated by Rees Jones, tennis, skeet, steeplechase and the foxhunt are all integral pieces of the legacy and lineage of London Hunt. The golf course is no stranger to upper echelon competition. America's Cup in 1954, Canadian Ladies' Open in 1953 and 1980, Canadian Open in 1970, Canadian PGA Championship in 1985, and three visits now from the LPGA. The duMaurier Classic in 1993, the CN Canadian Women's Open in 2006, and this year's edition. This week, the course is playing par 72 at 6656 yards. I am sure we will get to some more moments from the past of the London Hunt and Country Club in the next few fan blogs.
Seven in the morning brings many identifiable sounds to a Thursday on the LPGA tour. The sound of balls flying off of club faces at the range. The sound of the greenskeepers machines preparing the course for the days action. The sound of coffee being prepared, for players, fans, caddies, officials and club staff. All these sounds mean it is time for the tournament to begin with $2.25 million in prize money on the line. Yet perhaps the biggest indicator of this fact is near silence. Make your way over to the main practice green and this is what you will find. Nothing matters as much as putting and that is plainly obvious at a LPGA event. As the start times near, and pass, the players practising decrease. It is time to go to work. This fact also means it is time for me to head out onto the course.
My selected group to concentrate on for the day doesn't tee off until the afternoon, so now I take an explorer attitude to watching the best female golfers in the world. So many excellent choices. I start with catching a few holes of Inbee Park, Caroline Masson and Ilhee Lee. Next it is the threesome of Shanshan Feng, Laura Davies and Beatriz Recari. Then it's time to cut over a few holes to pick up the action between Lizette Salas, Jessica Korda and Chella Choi. This is one of the great things about the LPGA. No matter what body shape, size, height, age you are, there is something you can learn about your game out here. Just watch this international cavalcade. There has got to be a player out here that reminds you of your game in some way. There are a million ways to skin a birdie.
Since we are nearing the afternoon wave of tee times, it's time for some lunch before the following begins. I have been here all week at London Hunt and Country Club and everything I have had for lunch has been very tasty. Of course there is the full sit-down experience available in the clubhouse, but sometimes time just doesn't permit that. Today was one of those times. A ranch grilled chicken breast with bacon panini served the purpose very well, I must say. I may have to test this specific option again.
Lunch is done. That means it's time for the afternoon wave of starts to the tournament. I knew which group I would be following today on Tuesday already. Three Canadian players. Three Ontario ladies. In Ontario. Count me in. Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Jennifer Kirby and Brooke Henderson. I am never sure what to expect for crowds considering the CWO is in a different place every year. But I can say I was pleasantly surprised today, all around. Way to go, London, keep it up. When these three Canadian ladies left the first tee box, around 150 of their new friends went with them down the first hole. This gallery stayed consistent all day, swelling and receeding slightly from time to time. The threats of rain were just that. Yes, it is humid, but no rain. It seems the forecast for the week is improving.
It's always a little tentative in the first few holes of a tournament, especially your national open championship. Pars were the standard for a bit, but not for long. On the 4th hole, a 482 yard par 5, all three ladies birdied. There were a few strokes back and forth, but after five holes, the common score was one under. The 7th hole, a 550 yard par 5, was a bit of a dividing point for the time being. Brooke birdied. Jennifer birdied. Rebecca double bogeyed. But on the par three 8th hole, Rebecca was the only one to gain a stroke. As the front nine finished up, Jennifer and Brooke were -2, Rebecca was -1.
On the par 5, 529 yard 10th hole, all three players scored a par. But there was one difference, Rebecca put her drive in the water. An outstanding recovery, refusing to yield any more strokes. Pars and birdies were the order of the day after that, not another over par score was recorded by them for the remainder of the round. At the end of 18 holes, Brooke and Rebecca were -2, Jennifer was -5. There were some rather low scores today, so it appears the task is just getting under way. That's why there are three more days to go. About 12 hours after I had arrived, it was time to head back to the shuttle point. And I will do it all over again tomorrow. I invite you to read what happens.