Common touch praised

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

We can only hope it doesn't take another 18 years before the LPGA Tour rolls back into town.

After so much preparation went into it, the 2010 CN Canadian Women's Open has come and gone and we're happy to report the event was memorable in more ways than one.

From the moment we got out of the shuttle onto the grounds of St. Charles Country Club on Monday morning to the final drop off in the media parking lot over in the Westwood Community Church, we were impressed in every sense of the word.

The golf course and presentation of it were spectacular and players were raving about the conditions and reception they received from those in attendance.

Sure, Saturday was a bit of a downer as heavy rains and mosquitoes impacted the crowd and dominated the discussion but other than that, you heard nothing but positives about how Manitobans stepped up to host another world-class event.

We already knew the top players in the women's game were coming and with 46 of the Top-50 in the field last week, Manitobans saw the cream of the crop.

The fact the leaderboard had plenty of star power throughout the actual competition certainly didn't hurt matters either.

At the end of Sunday's final round, there was Michelle Wie getting soaked in champagne by her close friend Christina Kim after claiming just her second LPGA title.

While some wondered how Wie was going to hold up under the pressure, she didn't disappoint, maintaining her steady play and completing the wire-to-wire triumph.

If she's able to build off the momentum of this win, there's no reason she can't join the battle to be the No. 1 player in the world for years to come.

But Wie was only part of the story last week -- though an important one, who rightfully dominated the headlines from her hole-in-one on Thursday to her hoisting of the trophy on Sunday afternoon.

The LPGA Tour showed this week that they don't need one singular face to sell their game.

There are plenty who can carry the torch and it became evident daily that each player out on the course had an important story to tell.

I was blown away by the honesty and perspective that came through in several discussions with players during the course of the week.

When Anna Rawson mused that "If golf was 14 holes, I'd be great at it," she was echoing the sentiments of many players around the world, but you just don't come to expect it from someone at the top level of their sport or someone who is trying to play it for a living.

Talk about refreshing.

And how about Rachel Hetherington, a 38-year-old with nearly $6 million in career earnings who retired after playing her final round on Sunday.

While Hetherington was quick to admit that she doesn't have the drive to put in the practice time required to play at a level she performed at when she was a Top-10 and Top-20 player, it's not like she's planning to dump her clubs in the river and walk away from the sport entirely either.

Hetherington is not bitter with the game and plans to get involved in teaching juniors in the future and good on her for that.

The final thing that stands out was the way the players interacted with the fans.

Whether they shot in the 60s or the 80s, made a huge birdie on 18 or missed a crucial putt to miss the cut, the women went out of their way to sign as many autographs as they could.

By taking a few extra minutes out of their day, the players gave many Manitobans something more to remember, whether it was a simple signature or handing over a memento, like a cherished ball marker to an aspiring youngster.

A little goodwill can go a long way and the LPGA Tour found themselves a legion of new fans last week.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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