October 1, 2022

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Satisfied with her range session, the right-handed Lorie Kane grabbed a wedge, turned around and hit a few balls from the left side.

She duffed one and shanked another. Then, after a quick regroup, she went at it again, finally making solid contact on a couple more.

With that, Kane exited range left to applause from a group of fans watching.

“Pardon the expression, but come hell or high water, I’m going to have fun,” Kane said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Kane, the 57-year-old four-time LPGA Tour winner, is set to tee it up for her 30th and final CP Women’s Open beginning Thursday at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club.

Much has changed since Kane made her professional debut at the 1991 Canadian championship — but one constant has been the Canadian’s presence at her home tournament each and every year.

The Charlottetown native says she’s not retiring from golf.

“I never wanted to come to this tournament feeling like I was taking up space. … The next thing for me is to continue to grow the game, continue to work at making it more available to people across our country, to find another me in Atlantic Canada,” Kane said.

Kane has no designs on seriously contending — she joked that she’s lobbying the Tour to allow her to play the forward tees, though her competitive side still hopes to play into the weekend.

To that end, Kane will spend the tournament with family by her side. Her niece Charlotte is her caddie. And her seven-wood’s headcover is an homage to her dad Jack, who died in July.

“The back of the headcover is my dad’s cashmere sweater. My dad was always in a cashmere sweater, and [Halifax’s Dormie Workshop, a golf equipment company] put it together so beautifully,” Kane said.

“Charlotte had them inscribe on the bottom: ‘Leave it better than you found it.'”

Kane watches her approach shot on the ninth hole during Wednesday’s Pro-Am tournament. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

‘There’s no torch’

In Ottawa, Kane will be joined by Canadians ranging from 24-year-old Brooke Henderson, whose 12 pro victories and two majors are national records, to 21-year-old Monet Chun, who is coming off a run to the final of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Open.

Perhaps no competitor illustrates Kane’s vast impact more than 12-year-old Lucy Lin, who grew up on the opposite coast in Vancouver and only booked her ticket to the tournament through Monday’s final qualifier.

“Lorie is incredible,” said Henderson. “Growing up, she was women’s golf in Canada. I looked up to her and she’s been a great friend and mentor. I think all of Canada just loves her dearly, so it is sad that this is her last one.”

Kane herself credited the likes of Canadian greats Sandra Post and Jocelyne Bourassa for helping her reach the heights she did.

“I’ve heard a lot said about me passing a torch. There’s no torch. I think every woman that has played golf in this country has flown the flag as high as they can to make it better,” Kane said.

She said today’s LPGA players “deserve way more respect.”

“They’re the best in the world. … Their respect is coming. Purses are increasing. Visibility is increasing,” Kane said. “Will we ever get to par with men? I don’t think so, but I don’t think we need to to be successful. I think we just need to be taken seriously.”

Kane reacts to her drive on the ninth hole on Wednesday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Shooting star

Unlike Henderson, who won a major before she could legally drink in most of Canada, Kane’s career arc wasn’t so simple.

Kane played her first full season on tour in 1996, flashing some potential. But it was 1997 when Kane truly emerged — and when a series of heartbreak began.

The Canadian, in search of her first professional win, lost in two different playoffs that season. In the latter, it took golf icon Annika Sorenstam three holes to relegate Kane to second.

She said her family had an expression growing up: lift and climb.

“What it means is, on your way up you bring someone with you,” Kane explained. “In the peak of my time on tour, I had a hold on Annika Sorenstam’s foot, on Karrie Webb’s foot, on Se-ri Pak’s foot, on Juli Inkster’s foot. And I just said I’m not letting go.

“So if the Brooke Hendersons of the world learned anything from me, it’s humbling.”

Kane would experience a total of nine second-place finishes before finally breaking through with a win at the Michelob Light Classic in August 2000.

That’s when the floodgates opened. Kane would win three more tournaments over the next six months — plus one more second, just for good measure.

She never won again, but for that time period, Kane was a certified Canadian star. She would go on to receive the Order of Canada and be inducted to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.

On Wednesday, Golf Canada announced a community leader award to be named after Kane.

Just before coming to Ottawa this week, Kane spent time in Niagara Falls, Ont., with two more Canadian legends: Bobby Orr and Doug Gilmour.

It’s not a surprise, then, that the Hockey Hall of Famers equipped her for the 17th hole, dubbed “the rink.”

While Kane plans to wear her Toronto Maple Leafs jersey — to which there might be a mixed reaction — Charlotte will wear a hat with Gilmour’s No. 93.

Golf Canada funding

Earlier, the federal government, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, announced $4.4 million of funding to Golf Canada in support of its two professional tournaments.

The men’s Canadian Open saw record attendance in June, while this week’s CP Women’s Open is expected to also break records.

In 2023, the men’s tournament heads to Toronto while the women move west to Shaughnessy, B.C.



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