No shortage of talent in Women's Open field

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:57 AM ET

It's always the first question asked.

Who's going to be there?

In men's golf, everyone wants Tiger to be there, or Phil or Ernie or Vijay. They're so well known, no last names are necessary for the PGA superstars.

Annika and Michelle are about the only two who need no last name introduction on the women's LPGA tour.

Golf is one sport where greater emphasis is often placed on who won't be there rather than who will be.

And that's a real shame because golf is also the one sport that, even when top players are missing, still provides an inordinate amount of talent.

When the CN Canadian Women's Open takes place Aug. 10-13 at the the London Hunt and Country Club, neither Annika Sorenstam nor Michelle Wie will be present. Paula Creamer will take a pass as well.

There's no question having them would make the event more attractive. But these top players don't play every tournament. They have to pick and choose according to their schedule and the commitments they have made. That's the reality of the athlete who is in high demand.

But it would be wrong to minimize how good this tournament is going to be on the basis that some of the top players in the game won't attend.

As of this writing, 10 of the top 20 money winners on the LPGA Tour have committed to play the Women's Open. Included is Juli Inkster, who beat Sorenstam in a head-to-head battle in the world women's match-play championship. Inkster went to the final and lost 3-and-2 to 19-year-old Brittany Lincicome.

Lincicome, 20, also beat Wie head-to-head.

Think she can play?

Lincicome is scheduled to play in London.

So is Morgan Pressel and Stacy Prammanasudh, two other young stars who have been in contention in several tournaments.

Think they can play?

We already mentioned Inkster, who has won seven majors.

Think she can play?

Then there's media darling Natalie Gulbis. She's the LPGA's pin-up girl but she's in the top 20 in money earnings and in the top 10 in scoring average.

Think she can play?

She'll be here.

By the time the tournament date rolls around, the $1.7-million purse, one of the largest on the tour, could attract some other well-known players.

As it stands, 11 of the top 15 finishers at the U.S. Women's Open, including runner-up Pat Hurst, will play at the Canadian Women's Open.

So instead of focusing on who isn't going to come here, let's focus on who will be here.

Golf is one sport that produces a consistent stream of amazing talent. That might not win every week but in a sport as unforgiving as golf, one or two bad shots can make the difference between finishing first or 20th. That leaves an awful lot of good golf in between.

If the purpose of watching a golf tournament is to watch only the Tigers, the Phils, the Michelles or the Annikas, then you'll consider any tournament they don't participate in a bust.

But most fans understand that any number of players can produce the same type of golf as the top players and produce it on a consistent basis.

Most golf fans understand when two players are coming down the 18th fairway all even, a sizeable cheque and LPGA victory hanging on every shot, it doesn't matter whether it's Sorenstam against Lorena Ochoa or Se Ri Pak against Cristie Kerr.

The golfers still have to make the shots and still have to keep their emotions in check. Guaranteed they've made an awful lot of great shots before they got there. They know how to play the game.

When it comes down to that, it doesn't matter who is swinging the club.

It's all about golf.

And for the casual golf fan, don't be turned off because two or three big names in golf aren't there. Many of the women who are going to be here are ranked in the top 40 players in the world.

Think about that. Think about how many great women golfers there are and then think about how many will be in London.

It's going to be great golf.

BRITTANY LINCICOMBE: Beat Michelle Wie at world match play.


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