Aussie Rawson rules Priddis

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

She's a fashion model looking to master a different kind of walk-off.

Anna Rawson hopes it comes Sunday after the 72nd hole of the $2.75-million CN Canadian Women's Open.

Following two fellow Australians who won the LPGA Tour stop in Canada in the past decade, Rawson wants to be crowned champion of this week's event at Priddis Greens Golf & Country Club.

"I was actually thinking that coming down the last hole," said the 28-year-old Rawson, after a 7-under 64 yesterday gave her a course record and the outright lead through 18 holes of the CN Canadian Women's Open. "It would be great to keep having Australians win."

First, eventual hall-of-famer Karrie Webb won the tournament a decade ago when it was last hosted by Priddis Greens. Then, Australia's Katherine Hull won the event last year in Ottawa.

Rawson, who's searching her first LPGA victory in just her second season, hopes to make it three straight with a few more solid rounds on the country club 25 km southwest of Calgary.

"Yeah, it did," Rawson said when asked if it felt like a record round. "I felt like I had a good chance on 18, too, but I left it short putter (to miss a birdie opportunity).

"You know, I really tried today to just stay in the moment. I'm so good at getting ahead of myself and saying, 'Oh, if I get to three, if I get to four, if I get to 5-under ... I was like one shot at a time, and I'm not surprised of the score."

After a 2-under 33 on the front nine, the attractive Aussie got hot on the hilly part of the course, carding birdies on four of the first six holes. She also birdied the par-4, 330-yard 17th hole to record her career-best round.

Norway's Suzann Pettersen, No. 8 on this year's money list, had a stellar round with a 6-under 65. Two strokes further back at 5-under 66 heading into today's second round is top-rated Lorena Ochoa, who sits tied with Amanda Blumenherst.

"It should be better, but I'm really happy with that," Ochoa said. "It was important to get started in the right direction, and I like my position.

"I think it was important to take advantage of the nice weather in the morning," Ochoa continued. "It got harder in the afternoon in the wind."

Late in the round, the wind whipped up into a frenzy, making it near impossible for golfers still on the course -- except for Pettersen -- to get close to Rawson's record total.

Perhaps the leader herself would have found such a score out of the question -- regardless of the weather -- given where her head's been at this year.

"This year has just been terrible mentally -- like I've had the worst head that you could ever imagine," Rawson said. "I don't even want to tell you what's been going through my head, it's that bad. I thought about everything I shouldn't. I haven't been enjoying it."

She started working with a sports psychologist a month ago and believes it's helped.

"I think I just lied to my sports psychologist for like the first month," Rawson said. "Then I finally told him, 'I'm having doubts about golf.'

"I have expectations of myself, and I want to be really successful. I thought, well, if I can't be successful at golf, I can be successful at something else. I was on the course thinking, 'What am I going to do with my life? It's not what you want to be doing.

"I guess I'm just worried about the future."

After yesterday, perhaps that's in the past.

TODD.SAELHOF@SUNMEDIA.CA


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