Glen writes the fan diary from the 2011 CN Canadian Women's Open.
Final Round - August 28, 2011
Bienvenue a Dimanche Championnat. Oops, sorry. Welcome to Championship Sunday. Today is my earliest start yet, as round four of the 2011 CN Canadian Women's Open has been moved up to try and beat the weather. The key word there is "try". I am Glen, your very tired, very sun-burned, very damp and very satisfied fan on the scene.
The range is alive with activity before 6:30 as the ladies are raring to go for the final 18 holes. It is not just the early hour that makes this the coldest day of the week. The weather is changing fast and the overcast sky is many shades of gray. Lift, clean and place will be used today which is another clue to what we are in store for.
First out is Karen Stupples, Seon Hwa Lee and Christina Kim at 7 AM off the 1st tee. Stupps is always great with the fans, especially on twitter. Having said I would see her today and Karen replying "bright and early", I felt it was my duty to be there to see her off. Having threesomes on Sunday did make it more difficult to see as many players as I am used to, but Mother Nature forced this call. My first mission to venture out is with Vicky Hurst, Amanda Blumenherst and Samantha Richdale from the #10 tee at 9 AM. By 10 AM, the winds have picked up considerably, howling with the gusts and swirling all around. By 11:15, the rain has started to fall steadily but lightly. An hour later and the rain is falling steadily and much heavier. The winds are now constant. I am starting to think I am in Carnoustie and Carnoustie masqueraded as Montreal.
I have to be honest here. As the group I was following got to the 4th hole, their 13th of the round, I bailed and headed back to the clubhouse while my umbrella was still functional. Since then, my umbrella has been laid to rest in a dumpster. I watched groups finish up on hole #9 from the safety of the clubhouse balcony for an hour and a half before heading back out into the steady wind and rain for a final autograph and chat with my favorite LPGA player. Amanda showed great fortitude and grace this week, going from two extremely productive rounds to two rounds I am sure she would rather forget. But her #1 Canadian fan was proud to be in her galleries all week. Go Amanda!!
By this time, the last five threesomes were all into the final holes. This was a truly exciting finish even though the largest factor, the weather, was an unwelcome one. So many unusual shots from so many challenging lies. Nerves of steel and belief in one's abilities would be very important as the finish line neared. Or was it not the finish line, but merely another cut line? The possibility of a play-off was being bandied about as the top of the leaderboard closed up. Here is my chance to mention someone who made this event happen on the ground. As the last group prepared to tee off on #18, the very capable range manager of Hillsdale, the one-of-a-kind Lawrie, headed back out in the terrible conditions to prepare the range to re-open for the playoff if required. In the end that action was not required, but if need be Lawrie would have been ready to go. I made it my routine to hit the range shortly after arrival and before I left each day to talk to the man who sees all and hears all about the entire field. It was great fun spending time at the range, sir. Adieu and merci!
That sentiment can also be stated toward all the people I met at Hillsdale and the city of Greater Montreal. All were very friendly and accomodating to the visitors. Turns out the French I learned back in another life time served me well, though it was hardly ever absolutely necessary.
For the second year in a row, I have gotten the autograph of the Canadian Women's Open champion on Sunday morning before her round. Congratulations to Brittany Lincicome. Perhaps I am on to something here. Perhaps not. I thank LPGA.com for granting me this honor again. It was great fun to convey the experience to everyone. Now it is time to pack for the trip home and back to my real life. Next year is Vancouver, the absolute other end of the country. I look forward to it. Au revoir.
Third Round - August 27, 2011Bonjour, everyone! It's "moving day" at the 2011 CN Canadian Women's Open and here are the daily exploits of your fan on the scene, me, Glen. Since the cut has taken place, the start times are a little later today, so it is a leisurely 7:45 when I board the short ride to Hillsdale. The morning cloud is blowing off as the shuttle is animated with fan discussion about the pairings for today. Everyone has their pick. We shall see. Thirty-six hard fought holes remain to crown this year's Champion.
Once through the gates, the first sound of the day is the sweet spot of a driver sending a ball down range. It's time for the remaining ladies to earn that payday. By far the largest crowd at the 1st tee in the early pairings was for Jeehae Lee and local girl Maude-Aimee Leblanc, a native of nearby Sherbrooke, QC. The Montreal fans are behind her in force. Two by two the golfers head out on course to make their statement regarding who will be crowned the winner come Sunday afternoon. Fan favorite Morgan Pressel is paired with 15 year old Canadian amateur Jisoo Keel from Coquitlam, BC. A great job by Jisoo to make the cut. Solheim Cup teammates Christina Kim and Vicky Hurst begin their round. Meanwhile on the opposing squad, Laura Davies and Janice Moodie head out together. Canadian fan favorite Lorie Kane takes to the course with Yani Tseng. Texas natives Stacy Lewis and Katie Futcher depart together to test their fate against the course.
As the clock struck 11:36, I am off to walk the course with the pairing of Na On Min and my #1 girl Amanda Blumenherst. Slight variable winds greet them as they tee off on hole #1. As the holes went by, the temperature continued to rise. As we made our way around the course, the crowds continued to grow. Cheers and groans of the galleries echoing around the course as we go. The scoreboards recording the changing action as the world's best female golfers went to work. At close to 4:00, the round is complete for my chosen pair. Once again, I must mention that golf can be cruel. And cruel it was today to Amanda. Regardless, I did my best to offer words of encouragement for Sunday. A new round changes everything. A fresh start is a new chance to remedy what has been. Of course, I will be there to support my favorite player without hesitation.
As I went behind the 18th green to survey the practice green, the final pair of Ai Miyazato and Angela Stanford went by on their way to the 10th tee. Now it is time to set up shop at the 18th green and let the action come to me. As usual, the approach shots to the 18th green by the ladies were a combination of artistry, mechanics and poetry. Followed by the test of touch, nerves and skill otherwise known as putting. Such a fine display by the players. Not to mention the enthusiastic crowds at Autograph Alley. I have spent more than my fair share of time at major sporting events of all description, and nowhere are the athletes more accomodating and gracious than on the LPGA. My special thanks to all the players I spoke with and received autographs from today. Nothing makes any fan feel more involved than getting the chance to interact with the athletes. It truly is "different out here".
The impending side-effects of Hurricane Irene have thrown a wrench into the original plans for Championship Sunday. Threesomes will tee off from holes #1 and #10 starting at 7:00 to provide the best chance of completing the event in case of inclement weather. So I guess it will be another early morning smack dab in the middle of the finest female golfers in the world. I can't wait.
Second Round - August 26, 2011
Bonjour! Welcome to the Friday fan diary from the 2011 CN Canadian Women's Open. My name is Glen and here is how I spent the second day of the tournament. Arriving bright and early as usual, I had a little time to check out the driving range before heading out on course. On a fine sunny morning, the metallic sound of club striking golf ball is a wonderful thing. No shortage of that as more than 20 ladies were honing their skills before the day's work gets underway. It's always very entertaining to see the best female golfers on the planet all sending balls downrange right along side each other. It's also a great place to request an autograph as the ladies leave to get themselves set for their round. Thanks to Belen Mozo, Ai Miyazato, Vicky Hurst, Stacy Lewis, Yani Tseng and Amanda Blumenherst for today's autograph bounty.
On the 1st tee at 8:10 for the second round of the threesome of overnight co-leader Pernilla Lindberg, Jimin Jeong and my #1 girl Amanda Blumenherst. Due to the unsettled nature of Thursday's weather, lift, clean and place was used for round 1. Not so today as no rain is expected and the sun is out. As the ladies work their way around the front nine, the temperature steadily inches up along with the shot making. By the time we are onto the back nine it is a great day for golf, with threesomes all around and their fans in tow. As I make my way around the layout watching the fine display of golf, the electronic scoreboards keep everyone up to date with what is happening all over. The complete field may not be in front of you, but if they are on course you will know how they are doing. By the conclusion of their round, the ladies can tell their fate. Pernilla has not roared out ahead again today, but she is in fine position for the weekend. Amanda has improved her lot, easily making the cut for the final rounds. If Jimin did not have bad luck, she would have no luck at all. Golf can be cruel, especially when solid play brings little in the way of reward for your efforts. I look forward to seeing you back in Canada next year in Vancouver, Jimin! After a happy discussion with Amanda, I bid her farewell until tomorrow. She has work to be done and so do I. But I only call mine work. It is in actuality more enjoyment of watching live LPGA action.
But you can't log the miles without fuel in the tank. So it was off for another superb smoked meat sandwich, Montreal style. I can see how people develop a liking for these things. I wonder if I could possibly get about twenty of them in my luggage for the trip home? Next up on the golf agenda was catching up to Ryann O'Toole, Laura Diaz and Hee-Won Han, who started the day on the back at hole #10. Here's where that golf can be cruel thing pops up again. On the 16th hole, Ryann was unfortunate to lose a drive. After returning to the tee, things did not improve much. After carding a quadruple-bogey for the hole, her chances of making the cut were a steep challenge. By the time the threesome came up the 9th hole to finish their round, it was plain to see that it was not meant to be this week. Showing a great deal of heart and grace, Ryann O'Toole still had time for big smiles and a wave to all who supported her this week in Montreal. I am sure she will be in Vancouver next year and I would not wager against a much different outcome.
Then it was time for a little park and watch, situating myself at the 18th green to see everyone bring it home. There were definitely some surprises to be had as the picture of the field became clearer and the cut line became more solid. Unfortunately this is not horseshoes we are playing here so close is not good enough. I was disappointed to see Grace Park miss out on the weekend by one stroke. Also Jessica Korda and Alexis Thompson came up one stroke too many. I look forward to seeing you next year and wish you the best for the remainder of the season.
As the afternoon sun travels across the sky, I notice I have surpassed the 10 hour mark on site today. Again. Well, at least this year it took until Friday for me to get sunburned. Oops. Traveling towards the shuttle area, I am already thinking of what I will do tomorrow on Moving Day. When I know, I will let you know. Until then!
First Round - August 25, 2011
Welcome to Mirabel, Quebec and the 2011 CN Canadian Women's Open. My name is Glen and I will endeavor to tell you how my annual holiday has been going at Canada's only stop on the LPGA tour. This year's edition is being hosted by the Hillsdale Golf & Country Club, a 36 hole complex about 35 minutes from downtown Montreal. Hillsdale was created in July 1953 when the charter for the club was formed and an area in the Ste. Therese region was chosen for the course. The original eighteen hole layout was opened in September 1954 with the official grand opening of the course and original clubhouse in July 1955. The initial Howard Watson designed course, The Laurentien, is the venue for this week's tournament. Listed at 6600+ yards, the consensus this week is that it is playing longer than the scorecard states. It is a traditional layout, featuring numerous elevated greens which are mostly large and quite undulating. Fairways are generous but the changing slopes can make approach shots quite difficult depending on pin placement. Throw in a couple of little streams hidden to the eye from the tees and some water hazards on par 3's, and you have a challenging, picturesque test of your golfing abilities. The potential for risk/reward play is definitely present. A majority of the greens have an overall back to front slope to them. One of the most unique features is along the 6th hole, where a neighboring emu farm provides some very curious onlookers to the golf action!
As the week got underway on Monday, players, caddies, officials and fans from all points of the globe began to congregate at Hillsdale. Since this is an annual event for me, it is always welcoming to see the same great people from Golf Canada and the LPGA no matter where in Canada the tournament is held. True professionals who love the game and the fans. And that brings me to the fans. it is so much fun to re-acquaint with people from all over and to meet new fans as well. We all have one thing in common. Our love for the LPGA. I'm sure more will be coming about the awesome people here in Montreal.
At 7:10 AM, as I board the shuttle the sky is looking very threatening. Rain has been forecast as a certainty today. Oh well. That's what a golf rain suit is for. After arrival, the rain begins at 7:30. But it is warm and very humid. Just an extended summer shower maybe? As the early groups enter the tee box, officials perform the club and bag inspection. rules are rules, you know. By 8:30, the rain has stopped. It is now feeling like a sauna that smells better. Off goes the rain suit.
As the time hits 8:40, off of the 10th tee, Yani Tseng, Mika Miyazato and Se Ri Pak head out to begin their tournament. It has now begun in my mind. The big girls are going to work. This is a good opportunity to tell you all about the excellent layout at Hillsdale. If you were standing on the balcony of the clubhouse, this is what you would see. Directly below you is the main practice green. Using a clock analogy, looking off to ten o'clock you will see the path to the 10th tee. Eleven o'clock is the 18th green. Twelve noon is the 9th green. Two o'clock is the 1st tee. And half past three o'clock is the driving range.
Since I have not headed out on course, what am I doing? My favorite secondary activity besides watching live golf action. Monday to Wednesday for me entails taking pictures of all my favorite ladies. Once the prints are made, it is time to get them to sign the photos. A great souvenir from the 2011 CN Canadian Women's Open. Of course keeping in mind that once the tournament has started, fans can only ask the pros for autographs before or after their round is complete. The ladies have to concentrate on the task at hand. Rules are rules, you know.
As usual, the CN Spectator Village is a great place to shop, relax, or grab a bite. Every host city adds their own flavor to the cuisine available. So far this week, I have been trying some Montreal staples. How about a sandwich rye a viande fumee? Smoked meat on rye. Throw on some mustard and a pickle slice or two and you are ready to go. Or maybe some porc efflache? Pulled pork in a great barbeque sauce heaped on a bun. Magnifique!
So of course because it was supposed to rain all day, at 12:30 the sun is shining and the wind is gusting. Now the big power trios of the afternoon wave are going out on course. Off of the 1st tee goes Na Yeon Choi, Suzann Pettersen and Katherine Hull. Followed by Anna Nordqvist, Grace Park and Cristie Kerr. Followed by Paula Creamer, Karrie Webb and Kristy McPherson. The fans disperse out onto the course to follow their favorite ladies.
It is 1:50 PM before I finally commit to putting on the miles following a group. I have said before in my previous diaries that some times it is just dumb luck with what happens in the group you choose. Today was no exception. My chosen threesome was Pernilla Lindberg, Jimin Jeong and my #1 girl Amanda Blumenherst who went out from the 10th tee. As the round got underway it was now partly cloudy with variable shifting winds. Not your first choice for golf. On the 12th hole, a cloudburst sent everyone scurrying for the rain gear. The sun disappeared and the downpour began. Rain suit on again. Twenty minutes later, the sun is shining and the temperature has risen to 25C/80F while the course is now playing even longer. Rain suit off again.
I guess Mother Nature was out of tricks at that point, as it stayed sunny for the rest of the round. I had never seen Pernilla play a round live before, and she made it one to remember rattling off a 65 to end the day tied for the lead at -7! All three ladies played some great golf, crushing drives, pin-seeking with approach shots and reading some very difficult greens. But this round belonged to Pernilla. She stayed out of trouble on the fairways and had a very hot putter. I shall see them again tomorrow morning off the 1st tee.
So twelve hours after I arrived I am back waiting for a shuttle going the opposite direction. Day one is over. See you tomorrow.