Could be fifth major

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

You might as well go ahead and call the CN Canadian Women's Open the fifth major.

It's the fifth-highest purse on tour, the top 10 money winners are all scheduled to be here and if Edmonton holds true to its sporting form, the atmosphere will be as good as anywhere the LPGA visits.

World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa will be here. U.S. Open champ Cristie Kerr will be here. Teen phenom Michelle Wie is signed up and, achey wrist willing, will play. Hall of Famers Juli Inkster, Se Ri Pak, and Karrie Webb will be here. American sensations Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer are in. Money leaders Suzann Pettersen, Nicole Castrale and Brittany Lincicome are coming.

The only notable big names missing are Annika Sorenstam and Natalie Gulbis.

A tournament that used to be a major in the du Maurier days, only to be stripped of its designation and reduced to second-tier status after the cigarette advertising ban came into effect, is back, as big as ever.

And Edmonton is reaping the benefits.

"We're going to have a field that'll be U.S. Open quality," said Lorie Kane, who's as happy as anyone to see this country's national championship restored to its former glory. "When CN picked up the tournament they brought it back, in my mind, to major status."

There are only five events on the LPGA Tour with purses totalling more than $2 million US. This is one of them, at $2.25.

The players are also pampered like royalty. The girls got a taste of it last year, CN's first as a major sponsor, and couldn't wait to come back. They told their friends, and they're all coming too, turning Edmonton into a must-play event on all the superstar schedules.

"I know from last year that CN does a tremendous job," said Morgan Pressel, one of the first big names to confirm for Edmonton.

"They've really brought it up to a top-tier event. That's why everybody's coming back. And that helps make it a bigger draw, all the best players in the world are going to be there. It's going to be a very exciting championship."

With the feel of a major. You don't think the girls are going to be fired up for this one, given the field and the money up for grabs.

"True," said Pressel. "It's a great field, a great purse.

"With everyone who's going to be there you know that in order to come out on top you'll have to be at your best."

When Royal Mayfair took the tourney on three years ago, the Canadian Women's Open was in a bad spot on the schedule, had weak fields and offered no sizzle. Now, everyone is coming. Suddenly it's host to the best field outside of a U.S. Open.

"The biggest excitement is knowing that we're having such a strong, strong field," said Mayfair head pro Eric Thorsteinson.

"It is pretty cool; seeing all those names gives you shivers.

"This year with the date, there's no event after the British Open so they have lots of time to get over here and be well rested and continue on the west coast swing."


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