Leaner, meaner Kane out to win

JOHN HERBERT -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

Hockey fan Lorie Kane can't help but notice the similarities between the new NHL, the new LPGA Tour and the new-look Lorie Kane.

The LPGA has a new commissioner in Carolyn Bivens, some emerging young stars, a strong Korean contingent, the Canadian Women's Open has a brand new sponsor and Kane is 40 pounds lighter.

"Those are good comparisons," the Charlottetown, P.E.I., native said before heading to London where she will be the flag-bearer for Canadian pros at next week's national open at the Hunt Club. "We've got a feisty commissioner who is not afraid to make changes to build our product. We are the fastest growing sport in the world. We've got Annika (Sorenstam) as the leader but there's a youth movement and some of the youngsters have stepped up to the plate.

"It's a lot different than when I came out here to play 10 years ago."

Kane was the fresh-faced rookie when she came to London Hunt back in 199 * -- before she joined the LPGA Tour in 1996 -- to play in the her very first LPGA tournament in what was then the du Maurier Classic. She was just another Canadian face in the field with the spotlight on Dawn Coe-Jones, but this time the whole country will be watching if Kane can put together a week like she hasn't had for such a long time. Kane comes to London after competing in the Evian Masters in France and this weekend's Weetabix British Open.

The Kane golf fans will see in person isn't the same one they saw on television last August when the Canadian championship was played in her home town.

Kane decided last October to begin a serious fitness program to trim some weight and become stronger. She has three personal trainers to help her with her daily regimen which includes Pilates, weight training and cardio work.

"I've always worked out," Kane said. "When I added cycling, that seemed to shock the system."

Kane is listed as 5-foot-6 in the LPGA player guide but her weight is not listed. She said that's not really important but what golf fans should know is she's feeling "very healthy" and playing much better lately.

She said adjusting to her new body weight is part of the process of regaining her winning form. Though she has more than $6 million in career earnings and four LPGA Tour wins, Kane has not won since 2001. This year, she has yet to crack the Top 10 in 16 tournaments before heading for two in Europe.

"I decided this year I was going to go out and play the best golf I can play and maybe not worry about people's expectations. I'm leaner, meaner and I'm feeling good about myself and my goal of losing 40 pounds. I'm putting all that together to make my game better but I've not come close to reaching my potential.

"Getting fitter is part of the overall package to get me to win again and back to where I was. I've work hard, very hard and it's going to take time. I need to be patient."

Kane said she sees how the new-look NHL helped some players and teams but that hasn't happened yet for her.

"I don't look at the standings," she said. "I look at whether I gave it everything I got. The great thing about golf is every week there's a new tournament. I may not be where I should be but I'm heading in the right direction."

Don't suggest to Kane her new shape might have changed her swing and game.

"I don't agree," she said. "My golf swing is always built on timing and tempo. My golf swing does not change."

Kane said better putting and improving her short game should bring her better results the rest of the season.

"It's about holding trophies over your head," she said.

"The Hunt Club is a great course and sets up well for me. It's going to be a great week. My expectations are to play to the best of my ability and not get in my own way. I want to have fun, enjoy the people and the crowds. I want to finish well and I come every week to win. That's the ultimate goal."

Kane has done much more than carry the flag for Canada in recent years as its top female professional player.

When the Canadian Women's Open lost its sponsor last October when BMO Financial Group ended its five-year contract with the Royal Canadian Golf Association, Kane joined the fight to keep the tournament alive. When Canadian National Railway signed a three-year-deal with a two-year option as title sponsor, Kane jumped on board as the CN corporate ambassador. Kane also called on her old friends on the LPGA Tour to come to London to get the tournament back on the rails with a strong field.

The field has some impressive players including young stars Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lincicome and Natalie Gulbis, a sprinkling of solid veteran stars such as Kane and Meg Mallon and big-name stars such as Juli Inkster, Se Ri Pak and Cristie Kerr.

No doubt the $1.7 million US purse sweetened the pot for them.

Kane and six others from the LPGA Tour came to the Hunt Club in May for a CN corporate outing and they went back to the LPGA Tour to convince others to come to Canada.

Kane hadn't played the course in 13 years but the May appearance gave her some fresh insight into the quality of the 6,611-yard layout redone by Rees Jones in 1999-2000.

"What I learned is the holes have lots of shapes -- a lot of them go a little bit right or left. There are a lot of elevations to some greens. It played well into my hands. I hope it's dry and fast. I like poa greens. I grew up playing on poa so I feel very comfortable. They will get bumpy in the afternoon but that's a problem for everyone."

At 41, Kane comes to London on the back nine of her career thinking she can do what only Jocelyn Bourassa did in 1973. That is become the second Canadian to win our national women's open.

Kane said earlier this year it is difficult but fun to be the Canadian everyone is pinning their hopes on. Coe Jones and Kane have been in that pressure cooker for years.

"When it doesn't work out, it's hard because we've taken the whole country on our backs.''

LORIE KANE

Career wins: 4

Career money: $6,194,433

This year: $71,164

Recent: Her best showing this year is a tie for 24th at the U.S. Women's Open.

Personal: At 41, the Charlottetown, P.E.I., native believes she can win again. Thirteen years ago, Kane was a fresh-faced rookie who played in her first LPGA event at the Hunt Club in the du Maurier Classic. Back then, all eyes were on Canadian Dawn Coe-Jones, who came close to winning on the final day, finishing third. Kane knows she'll be carrying the flag for Canada: "You want to perform well for your country and people come to watch. When it doesn't work out, it's hard because you've taken on the whole country.''

Chip shots:

- She has won four times, the last coming in 2001. Kane could have won more except for a 2-7 playoff record.

- Won the Mexican Amateur in 1991.

- She had four top 10s in 2005 and her best finish was a fourth at the U.S. Women's Open. She won $698,763 in 2005.


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