What’s with Canadian women’s golf? There’s a host of talented young players but veteran Lorie Kane showed them all up at the CN Canadian Women’s Open that ended yesterday in Winnipeg. Golf, apparently, isn’t a game only for the young and long.
The 45-year-old from Charlottetown, P.E.I., Canada’s smallest province, hasn’t been having a banner year. She came into the CN without a top 10 in nine tournaments. She was 103rd on the LPGA money list. But there she was at the St. Charles Country Club, smiling her way through the tournament. Well, she wasn’t pleased when she made poor shots, but if there’s one thing that’s been true about Kane during her LPGA career, which started in 1996, it’s that her smile is never far away. And the final round 67 that boosted her up to a T11 finish made the grin even wider.
Kane has never lost sight of herself as an entertainer, and somebody who enjoys being entertained—even by spectators. She had a 25-foot birdie putt on the last hole of her second round at the St. Charles Country Club, and made a good stroke. As the ball neared the hole a spectator said, loud enough for everybody to hear, “Go in.” It did, and Kane turned to the fellow and said, “Thank you.”
A little encouragement certainly can’t hurt Kane these days. She’s won four LPGA Tour events but her last win came in 2001. But she isn’t giving up, notwithstanding the fact that she’s competing against players more than half her age who hit the ball much longer than she does. She’s been working since November with Sean Foley, who is also helping one Tiger Woods. Kane has seen some encouraging signs.
Consider the first round at St. Charles. Kane made a quadruple-bogey on the fourth hole and a triple-bogey on the 12th, but finished with 75, only 3-over par. She doubled the par-5 14th in the second round en route to a 73, and then shot 4-under 68 in the third round when her card was clean except for one bogey. [She shot ? in the fourth round to finish ? in the tournament that means the most to her.]
“I’m still not 100 percent on all the things we’ve been working on,” Kane said in Winnipeg. “And Danny [Sharp, her caddie] told me that every once in a while under the gun some bad habits will come back.”
“We have worked on allowing her to turn her hips more on the backswing,” Foley said the other day. “We have limited her lateral movement of the ball, and increased the way she drives her legs in a much more athletic manner. And finally, really getting her to lean the shaft towards the target as much as she can at impact. She has been doing it well for the last two months.”
At this moment, Kane is looking for improved results. But she is also experienced enough to know that the process is what matters. Woods himself has said it’s taken him up to 18 months to significantly change his swing.
So here is Kane at this fairly late stage in her career, trying to reinvent her game. At the same time, there’s no need to reinvent herself. Kane has long been one of Canada’s most popular golfers because of how she conducts herself.
No wonder, then, that Kane was awarded the Order of Canada on December 15, 2006. That’s the country’s highest honour, given to somebody who has made important contributions to Canada. Three years later, on December 18, 2009, Kane ran the Olympic torch through Toronto in advance of the Winter Games in Vancouver. She was quite emotional about her contribution, given that she wears the flag on her shoulder in her travels.
Canadians recognize her efforts and her commitment, and they make their views known. One woman wrote the following years ago, when Kane was in the early stages of her LPGA career. Kane had participated in the pro-am for the du Maurier Classic, then an LPGA major.
“Although Lorie was not the pro in our group, I admired her bubbling personality and interaction with others at the pre-dinner event,” the writer recalled. “We need more women role models like this in Canada who are aggressive and go after what they want.”
Kane went after what she wanted, and she won those four LPGA Tour events. But 2001 is a long time ago. Kane wants to win again. That’s why she committed to working with Foley. It’s why she’s patient even though she’s 45 years old. Kane will hear nothing of the notion that the game has passed her by and that her best days are behind her.
She does hope that what she calls the big hole into which she dug herself is behind her. “Now we’re on our way out of that,” she said. “I go to the golf course every day having fun because it’s fun to hit golf shots again, and I can see the ball go right to left and left to right and know why it’s going that way instead of wondering why it’s going that way.”
If things continue to work out, Kane could yet find success in this, the autumn of her impressive career.