Kane, Coe-Jones top hopes

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

It's a familiar home-grown train chugging down the rails toward the CN Canadian Women's Open golf championship at the Hunt Club.

With two weeks to go before London opens the doors to the annual LPGA Tour stop, it appears Canada's hope for a tournament contender still rests with Charlottetown's Lorie Kane, 41, and B.C. native Dawn Coe-Jones, 45.

Coe-Jones, who will be playing in her 26th Open, has seen a large contingent of Canadian women's talent come and go.

The elusive key has been getting a handful of them to stick for the long haul and turn into stars.

"They're probably going to put pressure on themselves, but the best thing they can do is feed off the crowd because you have to realize they're there to support you," Coe-Jones said yesterday.

Barring late qualifiers, 17 Canadians will compete in London -- seven LPGA Tour players and 10 exemptions awarded by the Royal Canadian Golf Association.

"We have 17 players in and that's a pretty good number," Coe-Jones said. "It gives some of the younger girls a chance to get some experience."

Like many young players, Coe-Jones didn't contend in her first several Opens, but those early experiences and her improvement paid off in 1993 when she finished third -- her best finish in this tournament -- the last time it was held at the Hunt Club.

"I remember I had an albatross (two shots on a par-five) on the fourth hole," Coe-Jones said. "There was a long rain delay (on the final day) and I remember when we went back out there, it had taken away a lot of my momentum. It's been a while, but I'm sure when I'm out there, it'll all come back to me and I'll have positive memories of the course."

Though another Coe-Jones or Kane run would create a buzz at this Open, the Canadian spotlight is there for the taking on a tour that is getting younger on courses that are playing longer.

It's the natural progression in sport for young stars to emerge and push the veteran establishment.

Golf is no different, but there is an expected delay as a couple of bright lights wrestle with physical setbacks.

Quebec native Isabelle Beisiegel hasn't played in an LPGA event in 10 months, just before she was diagnosed with Graves' Disease. She had her thyroid removed in March and is trying to get her game back on track.

Burlington's Salimah Mussani, a 26-year-old star on the Canadian women's tour and set to play at the Hunt, is on medication to control Lupus, a condition aggravated by sunlight -- a major problem for someone making a living playing an outside game.

The up-and-coming players see plenty of room for all talented Canadians and aren't comfortable with the symbolism of picking up a torch passed by Coe-Jones and Kane.

"To say take over isn't fair to Dawn or Lorie because that would be cutting them short and I think they have a lot of amazing golf left to play," Beisiegel said.

"We'd rather just look up to them and don't see it that way -- that someone has to 'take over.' "

Other notable Canadians in the Open field are Hamilton's Alena Sharp, 2005 Canadian amateur champion Laura Matthews of Essex and Walpole Island's Cheryl Mitchell, who will make the first appearance by a First Nations golfer on the LPGA Tour.


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