Open beckons gifted amateur

CARTER HAYDU -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

The thought of competing alongside the world's top female golfers has Vancouver's Kira Meixner feeling both scared and excited.

"It's inspiring ... It's always a little nerve-racking. It makes you a better player," she said.

The 21-year-old B.C. amateur provincial champion is playing, as an amateur, during the 2007 CN Canadian Women's Open in Edmonton, over the next week.

The tournament officially kicked off in front of City Hall yesterday.

Mayor Stephen Mandel welcomed the LPGA to Edmonton, while standing next to the gleaming silver trophy the 156 players will compete for.

The winner also receives $2.25 million US.

Meixner is just happy to be competing in the only Canadian stop for the LPGA tour. However, she said it would be nice to meet some of her heroes, such as Grace Park.

She said her chance probably won't come on the actual golf course, as top pros usually aren't matched with amateurs.

Don Sprague, organizing committee chairman for the prestigious tournament, said the Royal Mayfair Golf Club is in peak condition for the world-class athletes.

"The golf course has never been in better shape."

With plenty of $25 tickets left for the event, as well as free ETS shuttle service to the golf course from parking spots at the University of Alberta, Sprague encourages Edmontonians to check out the tournament.

However, Sprague doesn't think selling tickets will be a problem, as finding volunteers certainly hasn't been.

With 15,000 people signed up to help out at the week-long tournament, this is the first time Sprague has seen too much support for a local event to handle.

"I don't think there are too many events where you have a waiting list for volunteers, he said."

He said it just shows how popular women's golf is and how beneficial it is for the city to be hosting this event.

Whoever takes home the Women's Open title, the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation is bound to win. The main tournament sponsor, CN Rail, is matching any local fundraising raised for the Children's Hospital during the tournament.

Sprague said Edmontonians can donate to the cause through various booths set up at the golf club.


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