Sunday, August 29th
Greetings from Winnipeg, Manitoba for my take on Championship Sunday at the 2010 CN Canadian Women's Open. I am your sun-burned, mosquito-bitten, exhausted but very satisfied LPGA fan Glen and it was a great final round. The comments were heard loud and clear by St. Charles Country Club and Golf Canada concerning yesterdays insect epidemic. On Saturday night, the foggers were out in full force to combat the mosquito surge. The weather today was overcast and humid but the danger to exposed flesh was merely a fraction of that from the previous day. Jiyai Shin and myself were among those who welcomed that development.
Walking around the practice areas as the day got underway, it was hard to tell which group appeared more nervous- the players or the players' parents. Maybe it was the parents because all these athletes know what Sunday is about. Scoring red numbers. There were plenty of enticing pairings for fans of all description. How about the Hall-of-Fame pair of Juli Inkster and Karrie Webb? Or maybe Cristie Kerr and Christina Kim? How about Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel? My day on course started with Sophie Gustafson and Vicky Hurst at the first tee at 9:13. Super Soph and Miss Vicky had the rhythm going but I had to abandon them on the fifth. I had to head back to the first tee for Lorie Kane and Brittany Lang at 10:33. Lorie was having a very enjoyable event with all the partisan support, and it showed. Brittany Lang had to call for a ruling at the first green because of a sprinkler head in her line for a putt from a couple of feet off the putting surface proper. I could see the tension rise on the faces of the starters back on the tee, as this being Sunday only eight minutes was scheduled between pairs. What's that line about the best laid plans? Lorie Kane's putter proved to be rather warm as she was -4 for the day at the turn. Instead of 10:49, it was more like 11:00 for Katherine Hull and Brittany Lincicome to tee off their final round. Yes, this was exactly why I come to the CN every year. All these dynamite players eager to have at the course and improve their standing.
A trip back up to the practice green showed the last four or five pairs all going through their rituals. There was some speculation about Paula Creamer's capacity to continue while battling a stomach bug. I guess these people don't know much about Miss Creamer. Paula's father may have been unable to attend today, due to the same thing, but the lady herself was good to go! Just to break off for a second here, I don't know how anyone could not respect and admire the Pink Panther. What a fierce competitor. She reminds me of the classic character Scarlett O'Hara- so sweet and demure with the spirit of, well, a panther.
There had to be 250 people at the first tee for the final pairing of Michelle Wie and Jiyai Shin. After the loud and enthusiastic introductions, the players began to earn their money. So now everyone was underway which has come to mean one thing for me- lunch time! Today it was Shrimp Tortellini Alfredo with garlic, peppers, mushrooms and a dash of white wine. I'm going to miss these lunches. The CN Spectator Village does it up right.
Now it's 18th green watching time. Kyeong Bae had a ripper round going starting at even par, going -5 on the front, -7 through 11 and -8 through 13. M.J. Hur gave us all a putting clinic by draining a 40-foot birdie on 18. Then Sophie and Vicky brought it home both having made solid showings since I last saw them on the front. I went to say a few words to them as they signed for everyone at Autograph Alley. If you appreciate the play of these fine professionals make the effort to tell them so. Because they will appreciate it from you, the fan. It was a real treat to watch Canada's Lorie Kane walk up 18 to a great welcome from the gallery. Lorie finished the round -5 to win a new honor at the CN. She is the inaugural recipient of the Sandra Post Trophy given to the top Canadian finisher at our national Women's Open.
I almost forgot to mention my diversion to the 10th tee to see the last 5 groups start the back nine to get a feel for what was to come. Of course, expert insight was provided by my Paula devotees extraordinaire, Tony and Cindy, whom I was fortunate and grateful to for befriending me this week. It was a pleasure- see you in Montreal!
Kristy McPherson also had a fine round brewing, starting at -3, moving to -6 at the turn, -8 through 13 and -9 through 17 holes. Pat Hurst schooled the gallery at 18 by dropping a 25-foot birdie. Next were two very popular players in Canada to walk up the 18th fairway. 2008 CN winner Katherine Hull and 2009 Kraft Nabisco Champion Brittany Lincicome. Kat repayed the gallery with an eight foot birdie, complete with an over-the-top celebration showing her great sense of humor despite a frustrating day around the cup. Sarah Jane Smith, another bright new face on the LPGA tour received a warm welcome to the 18th green. Ai Miyazato, Se Ri Pak and so many others all receiving a warm welcome from the huge gallery. Kristy came in to finish at -9 after a splendid 66. Then it was Christina Kim's turn to feel the love with a 25-foot birdie on 18. In-Kyung Kim saved a -8 finish with a loooong putt for par. The always dangerous Suzann Petterson was next, showing displeasure at missing her birdie on 18, but finishing at -9. Then Jee Young Lee scored par to also finish at -9.
Then it was time for history to take place. The bleachers were full. Every inch of rope around the green was five or six fans deep. Michelle Wie and Jiyai Shin made their way to the green. The announcement on public address was barely audible. No one there needed to be told who was approaching. The first piece of history I was seeing before me was the first tarnish on the title of "Final Round Queen" for Jiyai. She gave it all she had but today it wasn't enough. Jiyai Shin is an elegant and rock-solid performer week-in and week-out. She is where she is because of what she brings to the table every single round. But this day, this week belonged to another. The second piece of history I was witnessing was that this was finally "The Week". The long awaited, long anticipated, long expected tournament where Michelle Wie would lead from beginning to end. From wire-to-wire. Once it was finally upon us all, no one could really explain why it hadn't already been done. I have never seen Michelle play like this for 72 holes. It was beyond refute. This tournament was hers and hers alone. After round three, as Michelle was being shuttled from one interview to another, I shouted to her "You look locked in Michelle, you can do it!" She gave me a fleeting glance but she definitely heard me. I can only hope it helped her. Regardless, I consider myself lucky to have seen it take place for myself.
If you have been here in Winnipeg at the tournament along with me, I hope my diaries captured some of what you will remember, too. If you weren't here, I hope I was able to convey to you how memorable and enjoyable my holiday was for me. To all whom I met and interacted with in the City of Winnipeg, I thank you. I had a great time here and will only speak of Winnipeg in the highest regard. To everyone at the St. Charles Country Club, thank you and congratulations on a job very well done. To LPGA.com, I thank you for this priviledge and I hope you don't regret your choice for fan diary.
And now I go back to my real life. Ho-hum. Let's see, how many days until Montreal?
Saturday, August 28th
Greetings from Winnipeg, Manitoba and the CN Canadian Women's Open for my view of Saturday's action. In case you don't know, my name is Glen and I hope my first couple of reports have been informative for you. What a difference a day makes. After two days of rising temperatures, gusting winds and firm course conditions this round was a complete opposite. Cooler, but not cold temperatures were accompanied by no wind to speak of, an almost day-long steady rain, and far too many voracious mosquitoes. I made the decision to maybe tolerate being a tad too warm instead of risking exposed flesh in the rain-soaked grass and tree groves of St. Charles Country Club. Any golf enthusiast who came out today without some serious means of insect repellant was not going to necessarily remember the golf. These crazed little insects didn't just buzz you when they found you. They were on a mission to seek you out and tell all their friends that it was time to eat. I heard Lorie Kane ask Brittany Lang if she saw the size of the swarm over the green on the third hole! All day long, the ladies were battling the little suckers as much as everyone else. Numerous times someone would have to step out and reset. Not to take another look at the shot, but to avoid blood loss!
My first endeavor was to follow Lorie Kane and Brittany Lang for their front nine. Lorie always has strong support playing in front of her fellow Canadians. Brittany has a solid folllowing as well, my motivation being she is the last Blue Devil standing. Both players quickly clued in to the new conditions of the course and used it to their advantage with Lorie ringing up three birdies in a row on the front. By the end of the round, both had carded an excellent four-under to shoot up the board and agree to see each other again tomorrow for Day 4. But I must admit, I bailed on them after nine holes. The skeeters were just too much for me. Obviously, they really didn't need my help to play great.
I decided that it was time to set up and let the players come to my location. One where I could try and control my exposure to being eaten alive. Before that, it was off to the CN Spectator Village for lunch. There are a souvenir shop, local radio booths, a Golf Canada booth, a children's "fun zone", a booth to tell everyone about this year's charity called the CN Miracle Match donation center, and food concessions where I had a chef prepare a pasta dish for me after I selected the ingredients from a vast array of sauces, spices, fresh vegetables and meats. I chose Chicken Penne Alfredo with peppers, garlic, zucchini and a dash of white wine. Yummy! I think I know where my lunch is tomorrow.
After picking up lots of new scents for the mosquitoes to hone in on me with, I planted myself at the 18th green with a coffee and my deployed umbrella. I must say I prefer watching golf in the rain compared to playing it in the rain. Quite a few ladies did improve their positions today but rest assured every one of them certainly earned it. It may have been 180 degrees different from Thursday and Friday but it was by no means easier. Everyone involved with on course action today deserves mention. From the volunteers, marshals, concession workers, security, police and medical to the players themselves and the people on the bags who can't hold a club and two umbrellas at once. Despite mother nature's strange sense of humor today, it was still a great show.
I always enjoy all the pairings coming down the 18th fairway to be welcomed by the crowd as they approach the green. I sure hope all the ladies feel the admiration we fans have for them. Louise Stahle made the first big shot at 18, chipping in for birdie from about 30 feet. Much was made about Paula Creamer's stomach ailment as the round wore on but in true Paula never-say-die fashion she gutted it out to the 18th green. As she hit her birdie attempt, four or five enthusiastic guys all yelled in perfect unison "Get in the Hole!". The putt stopped inches short, and as Paula approached the ball, she looked over in the direction of the command and very dryly said "Sorry" before tapping it in for par. Classic Paula Creamer. But it was Na Yeon Choi that had the shot of the day with a 60 foot birdie putt. Awesome! As the final two pairings approached, the tension and excitement continued to build. First, it was Morgan Pressel with a 35-foot chip and then Suzann Petterson with a 30-foot putt. After the crowd was done cheering and yelling, both had kick-in pars. As Michelle Wie and Jiyai Shin walked to the green amidst applause, they were tied for the lead. Michelle had an 18-foot putt for birdie and the lead. As the crowd urged the ball on, it stalled four inches short resulting in par. Next, Jiyai had an 11 footer with the same ramifications. After much urging from the crowd, a 6-inch par tap-in was the result.
What a great day of golf! It was now almost 12 hours since I had arrived and despite the rain and the insects I was sorry it was over for today. But tomorrow is Sunday. You know what that means. I can't wait.
Friday, August 27th
Hello from Winnipeg, Manitoba and the CN Canadian Women's Open. I'm Glen and I'll try to tell you about my Friday at Canada's annual LPGA event. This morning saw warmer temperatures from the outset but no respite from the winds that caused havoc on Day One. The shuttle buses from the parking area to St. Charles Country Club are getting fuller earlier every day. Since my priority threesome were moved back to accommodate TV coverage, I could sleep in a little. Today, I wasn't on site until 7:45- what a late start! So, with all this free time I decided to continue my favorite secondary activity- acquiring autographs. It was a productive endeavor today, getting Jiyai Shin, Ai Miyazato, Azahara Munoz, Cristie Kerr, Song-Hee Kim, Sun Young Yoo and Se Ri Pak to all provide their signatures.
Next, lets see some golf action! Sometimes, I find it's just dumb luck about which group you follow on course. Today, my luck was pretty good. I decided to go out on the front nine with the threesome of Reilley Rankin, Charlotte Mayorkas and Karin Sjodin. I was rewarded by watching Karin rattle off three birdies on the first three holes, making it look rather routine while doing so. Early on, it was all working for her. Sjodin made the turn at 32, good enough to put her in the top three with a score of -6. What a good display of making the most of a good thing. Then it was time to catch up with Laura Davies, Se Ri Pak, and Morgan Pressel. The ever popular Miss Laura always delivers for the fans, but it was Morgan who was holding the hot hand. At one point, being alone in second place at -6 after a Thursday round of even par. Then it was time to see Jiyai Shin, Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie finish up the back nine before the turn, fighting the large gallery following them right from tee-off.
The spectators here in Winnipeg appreciate good golf and nothing showed that more than the huge crowd assembled a half hour early at the first tee awaiting tee-off by the power trio of Brittany Lincicome, Paula Creamer, and Anna Nordqvist. But it was the next trio I was waiting for. Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Alexis Thompson and my favorite Amanda Blumenhurst followed 11 minutes later so it was time to rack up the miles. This is where knowing other fans with different favorites can go a long way towards keeping you up to date on multiple groups all playing at the same time. As I watched my group tee off, I would go down hole to the green, where an extremely dedicated pair of Paula fans would fill me in on the latest developments of that trio. I would repay them by reporting the progress of my group. Throw in the latest revelations from the numerous scoreboards around the course, and you have a rapid, flowing, ever-changing golf story to talk about as you watch your selected group make it happen. The thing about watching a live golf tournament that gets me going is there is action happening all over at the same time. The more fans you talk to and share with, the bigger and clearer your picture of the entire event becomes.
Four hours later, my Paula friends are waiting at the 18th green for my trio to bring it home so they can see what I've been watching. We fill each other in and everyone wins! Paula and Brittany have made the cut while all three in my preferred group have fallen to the ax. I must admit, I was so saddened that Amanda failed to make the cut but I had a great two days seeing her and her fine family again, picking up where we left off last year at Priddis Greens cheering for who I believe will one day be in the Hall of Fame. She has everything she needs to get there and it will happen- Trust me. If you are a golf fan and some how, by now, you are not familiar with this wonderful new personality on the LPGA Tour do yourself a favor and look into Amanda Blumenherst. But there is no rush- she will be around for a long, long time. I already look forward to seeing Team Blumie next year in Mirabel. I can also report that whatever you may have heard about Alexis Thompson cannot be overstated. This 15 year-old has talent that is obviously abundant. She has a feel for the game that cannot be taught. Maybe my new second favorite?
After almost 12 hours since I parked my car, I'm back in the parking lot. I feel I am wide open for tomorrow. Maybe it is time to set up shop and let the groups come to me. Maybe not. The lone Duke grad left- Brittany Lang- could use some support, I'm sure. I guess I'll have to sleep on it. Believe me , that won't be a problem. Until tomorrow then...
Thursday, August 26th
Hello from Winnipeg, Manitoba, site of the 2010 CN Canadian Women's Open. The location of Canada's lone LPGA tour event rotates yearly and this year St. Charles Country Club is playing host to the best female golfers in the world. And that is why I'm here. My name is Glen and this has become my annual vacation since seeing this tournament in '07 in my hometown of Edmonton, Alberta. Thursday had plenty of sun, plenty of wind, plenty of spectators, and plenty of golf action.
I arrived on Monday and as the field congregated at the venue, so did the fans. Besides people from all over Canada, many enthusiasts from south of the border and all points elsewhere also arrived who I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with about all things LPGA! It's always unique to attend a tour event because it's never the same twice. When St. Charles CC opened in 1904, it was five miles from the center of town, out in the country. Now, the city has enveloped this 27-hole complex, almost pushing it up against the Assiniboine river. The front nine was designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie in 1929. Accurate tee shots are a must going into contoured greens protected by deep bunkers. The back nine was designed by Donald Ross in 1919. Again, nothing will make a bigger difference than accurate tee shots with landing areas narrowing from the sloping fairways. Multi-contoured greens are the norm, with pin placement changing approach shots.
My day could not start any earlier as I decided to follow the 7 AM group from the 10th tee. My personal favorite Amanda Blumenherst, Alexis Thompson, and amateur Rebecca Lee-Bentham made up the threesome. It didn't take long before spectator participation was required, as Alexis' tee shot on the 16th hole lodged into an oak tree. After a vain search all around the tree and area by about ten people, Alexis accepted the tree's decision to keep the ball and go back to the tee! The early morning dew seemed to have an adhesive effect until the sun began to do its work for real. Another side effect of early morning moisture and low temperatures brought out everyone's favorite friends- mosquitoes. So the first layer of the day on exposed skin was repellent, not sunscreen. But, by 11AM, it was time to fend off the sun's rays for real. As the round wore on, more and more spectators were milling around everywhere following their favorite golfers. Right around noon, Day 1 ended for Group 2 with Alexis holding her own, Rebecca putting up a respectable showing and Amanda fighting bad luck by getting a couple birds coming home to set up tomorrow.
As I settled into my excellent Chicken Breast burger from the clubhouse for lunch, the winds started to pick up as the temperature kept rising. As I recharged my batteries, I thought good thoughts for the afternoon groups heading out into the gusty conditions. But, for now, my next mission was one I know well- autographs! Getting all the player bios in the program signed is not enough for me. Monday to Wednesday means taking pictures of all the great athletes and getting them printed for a souvenir that will always remind me of the 2010 CN Canadian Women's Open. By now the morning groups that started at 8AM and later were getting off the course. All the ladies are always very gracious and accommodating to fans once their serious work for the day is done. So the next two hours were spent checking the pairings list, checking the time, then dashing back and forth between the 9th and 18th greens for that elusive signature. That may sound silly, but I'll tell you it is an acquired skill. And definitely well worth the effort to me. It is always great to see the face of a young fan when they get to meet their favorites and maybe get a picture, an autograph, or a quick tip. Not only is the golf great, so are the golfers.
The hardest part of jumping out on the course with 20-25 groups in play is where to go? There were some great afternoon groups like Shin/Kerr/Wie, Davies/Pak/Pressel, Na Yeon Choi/Pettersen/Ai Miyazato, Alfredsson/Feng/Mika Miyazato- the list goes on. Plus, I have to keep an eye on the other Blue Devil grads besides Amanda- Brittany Lang and Liz Janangelo. The course played harder than some thought with lots of clutch up-and-downs, saves, and putts. I was certainly entertained but I was not fortunate enough to witness Michelle Wie's hole-in-one. But I certainly heard it! The roar from the crowd could be heard all over. It seemed like seconds until the news reverberated around the venue that an ace had been hit.
What do I expect for Day Two? More high temperatures, more gusty winds, more clutch performances, more big galleries. In short- more great golf! I'm exhausted, I'll fill you in tomorrow.