All roads lead to the Open

JOHN HERBERT -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

The current city manager and one of his predecessors took different routes to London Hunt and Country Club yesterday to play golf with Natalie Gulbis.

Or so they quipped.

Jeff Fielding, the current chief administrative officer, said he came down the notorious strip of Oxford Street that the city wanted to repave for $200,000 but backed off on doing after some taxpayers complained it would be done as a favour to the Hunt Club.

"We did . . . it was awful, awful, awful," Fielding said.

"I took the ring road," Jeff Malpass fired back, not missing a beat.

Malpass and Fielding were on the Siemens Canada team in yesterday's pro-am, which featured three amateur players and an LPGA player in each foursome. Since leaving the city job 3 1/2 years ago, Malpass has been working for Siemens. Fielding was a guest of Siemens and didn't pay.

Siemens picked up its team's $9,600 entry fee.

Fielding said he purchased tickets to the tournament with his own money and donated $200 at the gate to the Children's Hospital of Western Ontario. Tournament title sponsor Canadian National Railway is matching any spectator donation up to $1,000 to a total limit of $100,000.

The team, which also included Siemens executive Andre Dagenais, selected Gulbis as its pro for the pro-am at a party Tuesday night at the Hunt Club. In a draw to determine order of selections, Siemens drew the second pick.

The first pick was Se Ri Pak.

Malpass, Dagenais and Fielding each said Gulbis was an excellent playing partner.

"It was an incredible day," said Malpass, who is a member of the Oaks Golf and Country Club. "We learned a lot. She's very sociable, a great person and she's really down to earth."

"She's a helluva golfer, too," Dagenais said.

"She putts like a hockey player (hands apart on the putter shaft) and today she made just about everything."

Fielding and his colleagues made it unanimous on this point.

Gulbis might have been the No. 2 pick, but she was No. 1 on their list.

"She would have been our preference," Fielding said.

The pro-am field included some of London's better known people, such as Tony Dagnone, former president of London Health Sciences Centre; London golfer Kelly Roberts, who had in his group former Tournament of Hearts curling champion Jennifer Jones; Hunt club president Lindsey Elwood; Ontario Amateur champion Andrew Parr; Redtail Golf Course owners John Drake and Chris Goodwin; and former stock car driver Russ Urlin.

CANADIAN WOMEN'S OPEN BY THE NUMBERS

19 -- the number of Canadians playing in this year's event.

59 -- the lowest score recorded in a round by a player on the LPGA Tour, which was achieved by Annika Sorenstam (who isn't here this week) at the 2001 Standard Register PING tournament.

* -- the number of times Meg Mallon has won the Canadian Women's Open (2004, 2002, 2000).

255,000 -- the number of dollars that will be given to the winner of the tournament.

6,611 -- the number of yards that will be used on the par-72 London Hunt and Country Club course, which will play the longest in its history.

6 -- the number of different names and title sponsors the Canadian Women's Open has had, starting with the Supertest Ladies in 1966, La Canadienne in 1973, then Peter Jackson Classic (1974-83), du Maurier Classic (1984-2000), BMO Financial Group (2001-05) and now CN (2006).

* -- the highest that Canadian stars Lorie Kane (2001) and Dawn Coe-Jones (1993) have finished at the tournament.

339,120 -- the amount of career earnings by the top Canadian -- Dawn Coe-Jones -- at the Canadian Women's Open.

21 -- Brandie Burton's age when she became the tournament's youngest winner at the 1993 visit to the London Hunt Club.

8 -- legendary JoAnne Carner's margin of victory in the 1978 tournament, which was the largest in the event's history.

270 -- the lowest winning score over four rounds at the Canadian Women's Open, by Meg Mallon (2004) and Brandie Burton (1998).


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