With spotlight on others, Kerr waits in wings

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

Angela Stanford made the big noise with a course-ripping, eight-under-par round to lead the tournament.

Lorie Kane swelled Canadian hopes with four-under par. It was 1973 when a Canadian last won the premiere Canadian women's golf event.

That was the dominating news on Day 1 of the Canadian Woman's Open.

Both Stanford's and Kane's news conferences were packed. When Kane cleared out, so did a large number of the media.

Then Cristie Kerr came into the room to talk about her quiet five-under-par 67 -- quiet in that it was lost in all the hoopla over Stanford and Kane.

There's a feeling that follows Kerr around the course. While you aren't sure Stanford has another eight-under in her or Kane has another four-under, you get the feeling Kerr has a few five-unders left in her tournament.

If that's the case, she may well be talking in front of a packed media conference Sunday when the national women's championship leaves the London Hunt and Country Club.

There's no guarantee in golf, of course.

Stanford may indeed be in a zone where no matter what anyone else brings to the table, she'll be knocking down flag sticks all week.

Or it could be Kane's week. She's been playing well the last few weeks, finishing strongly at the British Open. The longer she's in contention, the more jazz she'll feel with the big crowds supporting her.

But Kerr is like the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it's there, but is afraid to acknowledge it due to the damage it might do.

She failed to win the British Open by one shot. She's had 10 top-10 finishes and has won almost $900,000. At 29, she is arguably the most accomplished and most talented young player here. Also one of the most dangerous.

Even during the Pro-Am event she was like a tiger on the prowl. Her focus was almost scary as she examined every nook and cranny of the golf course. When there's a tournament to be won, there isn't much time for anything else except working at the goal at hand.

"I think for me, when I practise like I want to play, I do better," she said. "Definitely when I'm playing better, I tend to pay attention a little bit more even in the pro-ams.

"There was a period of time when I wasn't playing well, so I got refocused on what I needed to do with my game and a big part of that was focus and doing things the right way."

Five-under is a good score on a golf course that punishes players who don't hit it straight. Kerr hit it straight, really straight, finding 13 of 14 fairways, but only 14 of 18 greens. That's good, but not good enough for Kerr, who said she left some shots out there.

"I think if you're hitting it in the fairway every hole, you're going to have a chance to make birdie, even if you knock it 30 feet from the hole because the greens are so good.

"I definitely need to go work on my swing a little bit and tighten my irons and get a little more dialed in come the weekend."

Yes, that sound you hear is the movement of a prowling tiger looking for a better position from which to pounce.

If the weather stays dry, the golf course isn't going to get any easier to play. Kane could wind up in a battle with a player she persuaded to play here. Kerr isn't disappointed. She says it "really feels like a major to me."

"Originally I was not scheduled to play," said Kerr. "I was going to take this week off. . . . And I thought, Lorie has done so much for us and our tour, I might give this tournament a shot.

"So she gave me nothing but positive feedback about the tournament and the site . . . so that definitely helped sway my decision to come."

It's a decision that will make the tournament enjoyable for the fans, but a lot more difficult to win for the other players.


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