London win remains vivid

JOHN HERBERT -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

With two major titles on her resume, Canada has been very good to California golfer Brandie Burton.

The 34-year-old was under the radar when she came to the London Hunt and Country Club in 1993 and won the du Maurier Classic. Five years later, she won it again at the Essex in Windsor.

"They were majors at the time," Burton said from her home in San Bernardino, Calif. "People in Canada have always been supportive of women's golf. I heard they were fighting for sponsorship, so I'm happy we were able to remain in Canada and keep the event going this year.''

Burton is coming back to London for the CN Canadian Women's Open after the Weetabix British Women's Open.

Her memories of 1993 are strong: her first major, beating Betsy King in a playoff, three tournament victories that year and a whopping $517,000 in winnings on the LPGA Tour. She became the youngest player to pass the $1-million mark in career earnings. She narrowly lost the Rolex player of the year award to King.

Fifteen times she finished in the top 10. She was named player of the year by Golf World magazine.

She now has more than $4 million in career earnings, but 1993 remains a special time in her career.

"It was only my third year on tour and I was playing so well," said Burton, who doesn't remember much about London itself. "Back then, I was the practice queen. I'd practise all day. I was 110 per cent wrapped up into golf at that time.''

Burton wasn't the crowd favourite in London because Canadian Dawn Coe-Jones, in the prime of her career, led or contended most of the tournament and drew the large galleries and media attention. Burton just went about her business, putting herself in position on the final day to win the championship.

She had a chance to win it without a playoff, but made a double bogey on the 18th -- the 72nd of the tournament -- when she three-putted.

"My most vivid memory obviously was the last day,'' Burton recalled. "People like Dawn Coe-Jones and Lorie Kane remind you where you have won. It was exciting. I try to replay it in my mind from time to time. What is clear is the 16th, 17th and 18th holes down the stretch. The weather was not good. The rain was lashing down and it was windy. We had a (rain) delay and I remember making double bogey to tie Betsy.

"I birdied the same hole 15 minutes later to win. It was a great week."

Burton's game is not the same these days as injuries and time have robbed her of some of her length and game.

"Unfortunately, since then I've had a lot of surgery . . . eight on my shoulders and ankle and 13 in total. Obviously my practice schedule has been diminished, but I can be competitive. I believe I'm still able to win.''

BRANDIE BURTON

Career wins: 5

Career money: $4,114,564

This year: $153,664 (48th)

Recent: Though she has not won a tournament since 1998, Burton had a strong showing this year, challenging for the lead after three rounds in the LPGA Corning Classic in Toledo last month.

Personal

- A five-time member of the U.S. Solheim Cup team

- LPGA rookie of the year in 1991

- Hobbies include NHRA drag racing and fishing


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