Kane feeds off love of her adoring fans

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

Of all the things learned in her years as an LPGA Tour standout, Lorie Kane knows how to improvise -- on and off the golf course.

Pressed for time following a lovely opening round of four-under 68 in the Canadian Women's Open, Kane hopped in the driver's seat of an attendant's golf cart, blazing through the London Hunt Club pathways and dodging crowds en route to more interviews and autographs. The dash erupted into an impromptu parade of surprised well-wishers who first ducked out of her road, then urged her to keep the birdies coming.

"Way to go, Lorie."

"Give 'em hell tomorrow."

"Great effort, Lorie. Keep it up."

The encouragement helped smooth over a round Kane thought should've gone lower because the course was forgiving early and she didn't take advantage. With Angela Stanford's 64 an impressive benchmark and relentlessly focused Cristie Kerr threatening to zoom toward the top, the Prince Edward Island native feels she requires a more magical 18 holes today to truly challenge for a super Sunday finish.

In a golf cart analogy, Kane has to keep her foot firmly on the gas pedal without trying to force the action.

"What I'm really trying to do is let the round happen instead of making the round happen," she said.

"I'm trying to use the crowd as a boost for me. I love playing in front of crowds. I'm really impressed with the number that are out here for a Thursday morning. I just hope they stay around to watch the rest of the girls.

"I tried to share some of the love with (playing partners) Brittany (Lincicome) and Seon (Hwa Lee)."

Kane began with a drive in the rough on the 10th hole -- her first -- and asked for a ruling because her ball was nestled near a sprinkler head. She didn't get relief from the nasty lie but was resourceful enough to score a par on what could have been a disastrous opener. She buried a 15-footer on the 18th hole -- her ninth -- and that gave her fuel to rocket up the leaderboard on the back nine.

"I really wanted to capitalize on a really good iron shot," Kane said. "We were talking six-iron and I said, 'You know what, I'm a little bit pumped. I've got to hit one less club.' I wanted to have some momentum to carry me through the front nine and we did so it was a good round."

Kane will probably carry the burden of Canadian hopes again into the weekend but Hamilton's Alena Sharp made it clear she's willing to shoulder some of that load.

The 25-year-old, who plays out of Brantford, zipped to three-under on her front nine but gave back those strokes to finish at even-par.

"I was nervous at the start, but I was happy with the way I struck the ball," Sharp said. "You make some putts and you miss some putts and (today) I'll work on the not missing part.

"The only difference of playing in Canada is I get more press and there's people here to see me."

Veteran Dawn Coe-Jones wound up with a one-over 73 and so did Burlington's Salimah Mussani in her second career LPGA appearance. The 26-year-old has already captured a Futures Tour major this year and won two Canadian tour tournaments when she only needed one to earn an exemption into this tournament.

"It was fun," Mussani said of her first round. "I didn't feel like I gave myself a lot of opportunities, though.

"If I firm up my irons, I can get closer to the hole and give myself a chance to make some putts."

Mussani suffers from lupus and the pills she takes for it make her sensitive to sunlight -- a tough break for someone playing an outdoor game.

But she teed off at 7:54 a.m. yesterday and, armed with an umbrella to ward off the rays, finished strong despite some late-round heat and delayed play that had many of the golfers waiting between shots.

"Definitely, it helped" to play in the morning, she said. "It was even kind of cold when I got here. I don't play until (this) afternoon (1:39 p.m. tee off) so it gives me a chance to relax before then so I don't have to be out" in the sun much.


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