LPGA Tour de force

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

For those who missed it, the LPGA Tour came of age on the weekend.

Making a rare network TV appearance, the formerly vanilla women's loop seized the opportunity by showcasing a handful of young newcomers whose efforts at the U.S. Open this weekend put the tour back on the map.

While it was Annika Sorenstam's Grand Slam chase that put the spotlight on the tired old product, it was the youngsters who stole the show as millions who hadn't paid attention to the LPGA for years found themselves glued to yesterday's final round.

Not only was the leaderboard riddled with talented teens but their sweet swings and fresh faces were attractive enough to add sizzle to a group forever dominated by gals both long in the tooth and, well, long in the face.

While 22-year-old Natalie Gulbis has been one of the tour's lone beauty's to grace the sports pages of late, the sexy swinger was joined in the hunt yesterday by 17-year-old amateur Morgan Pressel and 18-year-old Paula Creamer for one of the most dramatic and eye-catching final rounds in recent LPGA lore. Add to the mix the fascinating brilliance of 15-year-old Michelle Wie and 19-year-old Brittany Lang and it's clear this weekend's LPGA showcase was a promising sign of things to come. What's more, the ladies still have better swings than most men.

It shouldn't be long before network TV adds LPGA events on a more regular basis.

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AROUND THE HORN: No wonder Ron Lancaster is keeping quarterback Danny McManus around. Big Mac is the only one bad enough to eclipse the Little General's CFL record for career interceptions with 396 in 19 seasons. McManus, who started the year with two picks last week, is second all-time with 262 in 15-plus seasons ... Maria Sharapova's on-court shrieks at Wimbledon last week topped out at 101.2 decibels, which is roughly equivalent to that of a police siren. This, according to a newspaper's 'gruntometer' ... While I may be the only one in Canada who refuses to believe the NHL will be back on ice this fall, may I ask if anyone has considered the possibility the players will vote down the proposal that reportedly has them bowing to almost all of the owners' demands? Just a thought ... Word is Joe Nieuwendyk will retire in Dallas as soon as the NHL announces its return ... The hottest selling item in baseball: Washington Nationals ball caps.

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PARTING SHOTS: As part of The Hockey News' saucy Desperate Housewives edition, Kerry-Anne Walz suggests it wasn't all peaches and cream having her Calgary-born husband, Wes, home all year: "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, do I really want to have him home with me all the time? I might have to go find a job myself.' " Imagine the humility ... Not only has Casey Printers' outspokenness rubbed teammates the wrong way, many Lions lost respect for the former MVP for missing countless reps in camp due to injuries they see as relatively minor ... NHL players who share buildings with NBA teams have long scoffed at the stupidity and greed of the world's tallest athletes. In light of the NBA's rapid CBA resolution, who's laughing now? ... Donald Trump has a new book out called The Best Golf Advice I Ever Received. Just a guess on what he was told: "Wear a hat."


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