HENDERSON PRIMED FOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RUN
On Monday at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, local favorite and World No. 10 Brooke Henderson hosted the inaugural “Brooke and Friends Pro-Am,” featuring 15 of her fellow LPGA pros, retired Ottawa Senators Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips, and several lucky amateurs. The event raised funds for the Golf Canada Foundation, benefitting their player engagement and junior golf programs, and the Team Henderson Foundation, benefitting the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. And if the scores of fans lining the fairways on a day where the scores didn’t even count is a sign, the CP Women’s Open is in for a packed week.
“I was out with my group and we were having fun, and all of a sudden there were hundreds of people watching, and it was a Monday Pro-Am,” said Henderson, a CP ambassador who is playing in her sixth CP Women’s Open. “Still like four days away from competition, and they were out there cheering me on. It was kind of relaxing. It kind of got my mindset on I can handle this.”
Henderson comes into this week’s CP Women’s Open as the prohibitive Canadian favorite and the hometown hero, living just 60 kilometers away in Smiths Falls. The 19-year-old, fresh off two weeks of rest following the Ricoh Women’s British Open, captured victory earlier this season at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, and while any victory is a good victory, a win at her national championship would certainly be just that much sweeter.
“This championship isn’t a major anymore. But for us Canadians, it really is,” said Henderson of the event that was played as an LPGA major in 1979 to 2000 as the du Maurier Classic. “This is a tournament that I would love to hoist that trophy, and especially here in Ottawa. And I know it will be very difficult for any one of us to win. This is one of the strongest fields of the year. There’s 150 golfers that are trying to win that trophy.”
Henderson is one of 14 Canadian players trying to join Jocelyne Bourassa as the only native winner of this championship. Bourassa, who was inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 1996, won the inaugural event in 1973.
KANE PROUD TO REPRESENT CANADA, CP AND CHILDREN’S HEALTH
Lorie Kane is teeing it up this week in her 27th consecutive CP Women’s Open, an astounding statistic that speaks to the longevity and dedication of one of Canada’s most beloved athletes.
“Holy smokes. Where has the time gone?” said Kane when reminded of her championship history. “What I’m looking forward to is teeing it up on Thursday and putting my best foot forward. I’m not getting to play a lot of tournament golf, but I do feel pretty good about things and ready to go.”
Kane, who has four LPGA Tour victories, first partnered with CP in 2014, when the company became the title sponsor of Canada’s national championship. Since then, they have raised $4.5 million in support of children’s heart health. Seven-year-old Zander Zatylny, who underwent two open-heart surgeries before his first birthday at the Children’s Hospital of East Ontario (CHEO) and requires constant monitoring, is the young face of this week’s fundraising efforts.
“If I ever have a legacy or whatever,” said Kane, “I want to say that I’m very honored to have been involved with a corporation like CP that’s iconic to Canada and the brand, but also in what they do for charitable work in bringing this tournament and awareness to CHEO.”
Through the end of the championship, CP is matching all donations to CHEO in hopes of funding a renovation of the catheterization lab and intervention suite. According to Kane, young Zander will benefit from this lab through his late teenage years, as will countless other children.
For more information or to donate, visit http://cpwomensopen.com/charity.php.
SWEET HOMECOMING FOR SHARP
Add Alena Sharp to the list of players who have benefitted from two weeks off. Sharp, an Ontario native who now makes her home in Phoenix, took a long break following the Ricoh Women’s British Open, not touching her golf clubs for a week while enjoying an extended break in her home country.
“I’ve been up here in Canada since August 8,” said Sharp, who finished fourth at last year’s CP Women’s Open, her best finish in her national championship. “I think this is the longest I’ve been in Canada for a while. Just feeling rested, recharged and ready to go. It is nice to be here and have everybody coming up to me and saying good luck. It’s just a different feel than just any other event out on Tour.”
Sharp admitted to what she called a “rookie mistake” in playing seven straight events earlier this year and burning out toward the end of that marathon stretch. With her fresh legs under her, Sharp is ready to contend for her national title.“Everybody talks about a Canadian winning it, and you just dream of doing that,” said Sharp, who is playing in her 14th CPWO and finished T45 at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club in 2008. “You’ve just got to stay focused and really enjoy the time when we’re out there, and that’s what I’m doing now. Before I didn’t think it was a burden, but I just felt like I had so much weight on my shoulders to do well. I’ve already had a good year coming into this event, and I know that I’m playing well enough to give it a shot to be there on Sunday, and that’s the goal.”
YELLOW RIBBONS TO COMMEMORATE DAWN COE-JONES
Many players at this week’s CP Women’s Open will don yellow ribbons in memory of Dawn Coe-Jones, who passed away last November at age 56 after a battle with bone cancer. Coe-Jones, a member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame who won three LPGA Tour events, played in her country’s national championship more than 20 times.
“I don’t want anybody to ever forget her,” said Lorie Kane. “I leaned on Dawn probably more than Dawn realized and looked to Dawn for a kick in the butt when I needed to.”
“I remember last year she was fairly sick at this point, and I put her initials on my ball at this tournament last year, and just really thought about her,” added Alena Sharp. “When I hit a bad shot, I didn’t let it bother me, because it’s perspective, you know. Someone’s fighting for their life that shouldn’t be fighting for their life at that young of an age and I’m out here playing golf. I shouldn’t be getting upset over golf shots. So I think same thing this year. She’s always on my mind. She was such a great mentor to all of us Canadian kids. She’s definitely not forgotten, and I’m glad we’re honoring her this week.”
“Growing up, I dreamed of playing on the LPGA Tour. Now I’m fortunate enough to do that every single week and play against the best players. To now have them here, basically, in my backyard and to compete against them is pretty cool.”
Brooke Henderson, on living her dream
“So it’s a lot of excitement in women’s golf, and golf in general in Canada. I really think that we’re in a good place. Our golf courses are busy at Prince Edward Island and throughout Canada. Contrary to the belief that the numbers are down, I really think that the sport is finding its place. We may not be all members of golf courses, but we’re playing golf. That’s being shown in these 14 Canadians that are going to be here to compete this week.”
Lorie Kane, on the state of golf in Canada
“It was so crazy. I was so nervous on the first tee. I know I hooked it left to the rough. It was rough up to your ankles and I had to chip it out. It was just amazing being announced on the tee, and I had a lot of people watching me. It was just like, whoa, this is what it feels like to be on the LPGA. So glad I’ve gotten over that.”
Alena Sharp, on her memories from her first CP Women’s Open in 2004 at the Legends on the Niagara