Complete game needed at Canadian Open

Ai Miyazato of Japan leaves the fourth green during the ProAm at the LPGA Canadian Women's Open...

Ai Miyazato of Japan leaves the fourth green during the ProAm at the LPGA Canadian Women's Open golf tournament in Coquitlam, British Columbia August 22, 2012. (Reuters/ANDY CLARK)

TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:43 PM ET

COQUITLAM, B.C. - Expect the cream of the LPGA crop to rise to the top over the next four days at the Vancouver Country Club.

That's because it'll take every tool in the bag -- and then some -- to pull out the 2012 CN Canadian Women's Open title.

Driver, three-wood, iron, wedge, putter "¦ caddie.

"I do like it -- the harder, the better," said American Paula Creamer, one of the circuit's top golfers and star attractions. "When you have to think and you and your caddie have to come up with certain plans, that's fun. That's something you might not necessarily see on other golf courses that we play."

But variety is exactly what this West Coast course offers for the 156-woman field in pursuit of the $300,000 first-place prize.

Even though the 6,681-yard piece of real estate ranks as the longest in tournament history, the long bombers, such as Americans Lexi Thompson and Brittany Lincicome, won't be able to let the big dog eat on every hole -- especially on the front nine, which is rolling and shorter in distance than the back nine by 465 yards.

"The front nine is very hilly with undulating greens, so it's really important to stay below the hole on almost all of them," Creamer said. "There's a couple of holes that long hitters can take advantage of on the back nine. But overall, if you're not in the short grass and giving yourself good looks, it's going to be a long day."

It might be anyway, particularly if the flatstick isn't working.

What the 3,108-yard front nine lacks in distance, it makes up for on tricky greens, according to LPGA players and tourney brass. In fact, most of the greens here have given golfer fits during the last three days of pro-ams and practice rounds.

"The greens on the front side are insane," said 2009 Canadian Women's Open champ Suzann Pettersen of Norway. "I mean "¦ you could possibly see some four-putts. If you're above the hole, you're literally dead.

"Be very tentative with the speeds, even on the fairly flat putts," Pettersen continued. "You don't have really too many flat lies there, though. The key is going to be getting to the back nine with all pars."

From there, the stars say, it opens up somewhat for the 3,573-yard final nine holes.

"The back nine is maybe the more scoreable nine based on the greens," said veteran Canadian star Lorie Kane. "The complexes aren't as severely sloped. But it's all positioning, it's all about coming into the greens."

It's all, then, about using every skill.

Kane says somebody like South Korea's Inbee Park, who hits the ball relatively long but is almost always on target and is a strong putter, would be a solid choice to win this week.

Long-bomber Lincecome, the defending queen, says she's going to make the most of her three-wood rather than her driver.

But they all know it's going to come down to what happens with the putter.

"Believe me, this is purely going to be a putting contest," Pettersen said.

Added Creamer: "This is an Open -- they're going to make it hard, so it doesn't just cater to one person. With pin placement, they make us look like fools or make us look great. And that's kind of what you want.

"You want to be able to use all your shots. You want to be able to hit your long clubs, your short clubs, your wedges "¦ You want to use every part of your game."

todd.saelhof@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNToddSaelhof


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