JUNE 25, 2012
Canadians Embrace New LPGA Event
WATERLOO, ONTARIO | Second-tier is
usually a derogatory term. But don’t try to
tell that to Lorie Kane. Walking from the
putting green to the range at the Manulife
Financial LPGA Classic, Kane, a 16-year
veteran on the LPGA who hails from the
Canadian province of Prince Edward
Island, talks enthusiastically about
Canada’s newest professional golf event.
Held in Waterloo, Ont., home to Blackberry maker Research in Motion and the
Canadian headquarters of insurance giant
Manulife, a city with about 100,000 residents, Kane says the event is capturing
the imagination of the region’s residents in
a way it wouldn’t if it was in a larger city.
In Toronto or Vancouver, where this
year’s CN Canadian Women’s Open will
be held, the tournament competes for
eyeballs with other sports and entertainment outings. But at least for one week
in Waterloo the LPGA is in the spotlight.
Grocery stores and fire departments sport
signs welcoming the best female players
in the world, and fans lined the fairways.
Event promoters said more than 20,000
fans hit the course on Friday to watch key
groups such as Lexi Thompson and Paula
Creamer, numbers that exceeded last
year’s RBC Canadian Open.
The expectation was that perhaps as
many as 80,000 golf fans would show up
at Grey Silo, a municipal golf course, to
watch before it was all done. That would
make the event a staggering success.
Kane is convinced the women’s tour
succeeds best when it is a big fish in a
Lexi Thompson kept the gallery rapt in Waterloo.
are two Canadian LPGA stops. Before rail
company CN stepped up to support the
Canadian Women’s Open, the event was in
danger of disappearing. Now the Canadian
stalwart can expect to play in her home
country twice a year for the foreseeable
future in second-tier cities that have embraced the LPGA.
“I think the tournament is a home run,”
Kane says as she ducks under the rope
and walks to her waiting caddie on the
range. “Women’s golf is a priority here. It
is great to see.” l