A name of her own

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

Jade Polonich had her hands wrapped around her player's credential for the CN Canadian Women's Open but was having trouble getting her head wrapped around it.

"This is going to be a bad interview, boys," said the fiancee of Edmonton Eskimos running back Ron 'Goldie' McClendon and daughter of 14-year NHLer Dennis Polonich.

The former Calgary Bearspaw product who now works in the pro shop of the Edmonton Country Club had just made it into the $2.25 million US golf tournament as an amateur. She was one of 65 golfers competing for the final four spots in the event at Monday morning qualifying at the Edmonton Petroleum club.

"I can't even describe this feeling. Millions dream of it. I dreamed of it when I started playing competitive golf when I was 13 or 14. From then on I wanted to play in the LPGA. Now I am!

"I'm in such a different place right now," she oozed. "To play a LPGA event, especially this one, is unbelievable."

THINK ABOUT IT

Then she thought about that for a second.

"I might have to shut off my cellphone."

She's going to have her own gallery but McClendon isn't going to be part of it.

He plays with the Eskimos in Saskatchewan Saturday. The team leaves after practice on a 1:25 p.m. flight Thursday.

"It's killing me," said McClendon.

"She told me 'Baby, it's kinda like we're in college again. You focus up on the football and I'll do the same with the golf.'"

The two went to the U of Mississippi together, Polonich at first on a volleyball scholarship before making the golf team. They've been together for seven years.

"We met when Eli Manning was my host on one of the five visits you get to look over schools offering you scholarships. I saw Jade on my visit. I told her I was coming back for her and I did."

McClendon didn't even get to watch the qualifying.

"I had treatment this morning. By the time I was done, she was almost done.

"She was in tears when she called me. I'm very very excited for her.

"If I wasn't playing, there's no doubt I'd be caddying. I told her today, babe, you're going to get more publicity than I do."

MCCLENDON BUSY

While McClendon can't get the weekend off, at least Polonich had no problem with that.

"She called us at the pro shop asking if she could have Wednesday off," said Country Club assistant pro Drew Steele.

"She wasn't scheduled to work the weekend, but was supposed to work Wednesday.

"She didn't come out and say why right away. Finally I realized it was the morning of qualifying. I asked her if she made it. She said 'Yes.' She didn't have that much to say. She sounded kind of stunned."

Polonich, who said playing with her dad when he starts to trash talk when she's over three foot putts, didn't prepare her for this.

It was an excruciating experience.

Out at 8:10 a.m. on the second group off the No. 1 tee, she shot a 72.

"It's fun and it's scary," she said after signing her scorecard.

"I tried this for the first time last year at the Canadian Women's Open in London, Ont. and didn't play well. I shot an 82."

Born in Detroit when her dad was playing one of his 12-seasons with the Red Wings, she had her mom and business partner Angie as caddy. The two own Bitchin Beads and make jewelry.

"I told my mom that I was just going to try stay in the moment," she said of her two- birdie, two-bogie round.

"One shot at a time. Keep breathing."

She had a long wait. Three pros came in with 71s. But nobody else beat her or tied her when she was on the bubble.

No playoff. Here's your credential, girl.

"I'm just going to suck it all up and enjoy every moment," she said.

Polonich couldn't wait to drive to the Royal Mayfair to get a feel for the place before today's official practice round. She's only played it twice in her life.

Asked if there were a pair of pros she'd love to end up in her grouping for Thursday's first round, it was like the thought hadn't even entered her mind.

"I couldn't even begin to go there. It's a great field. There are so many," she said of tournament which has drawn 24 of the top 25 women on the LPGA money list.

"If I told you who I'd like to be playing with then I'd be pooping my pants. I still will be, no matter who I'm playing with."


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