Golden oldies still shine

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

They're the old pros, the golden girls of golf, facing a whole new generation of top talent that they can either resent or enjoy.

"They've got spunk," said Julie Inkster.

The next line, as voiced by Lou Grant to Mary on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, a sitcom none of these kids would remember, could have been: "I hate spunk!"

But Inkster fired a three-under-par 68 yesterday to end up on the leaderboard with players named Diaz, Kuhene, Bae, Young, Jang, Aun, Lee, Tseng, McGill, Creamer, Ward and Hall.

That's why, for the occasional trip like this, Inkster brings along her daughters Hayley, 17, and Cori, 14.

"They (the young players) are like my kids," said the 47-year-old veteran of 24 years on Tour who is already a Hall of Famer with 33 LPGA tournaments, including seven majors. She's 18th on the money list this year and third all-time, with career earnings of $11.8 million.

"They dress like my kids. They dress kind of funky. They definitely make it harder to win. But they're good young kids who have a lot of heart and ... well ... a lot of spunk."

Inkster doesn't think she's stopped winning yet. She won a tournament last year and has been in the top 10 four times this season.

It's the same with other oldies but goodies who have managed to keep themselves competitive on the LPGA Tour.

Laura Davies and Meg Mallon, to name two, are blasts from the past still blasting away, two and four wins respectively from making it into the Hall of Fame.

Their names used to be up there on the leaderboard most weekends. Not anymore.

After the first round of the CN Canadian Women's Open, it's Inkster's name up there. Mallon and Hall of Famer Karrie Webb were both one over yesterday. But for the longest time it looked like it was going to be Davies with a nice red number on the board.

After withdrawing from the Pro-Am because she lost her luggage and her clubs flying here from England, the woman who won this tournament the last time it was held in Edmonton 11 years ago was wowing the crowd at the Royal Mayfair.

She was four under after 11 and looking like she could be up there with first-round leader Diaz, who led the way at six-under.

Then Davies took a snowman. An 8. "I was having such a strong day. I played fantastic until I hit that hole," she said of No. 3, having started the tournament on the back nine.

"I just hit a bad shot," she said of putting it in the trees. "Then I made some stupid shots to finish the hole. Then I three-putted from inside 10 feet on the next hole ..."

She ended the day at two over. Davies is 43 now. If she was looking for a replay of her performance here 11 years ago, it wasn't to be.

"Thanks to Air Canada I didn't get my luggage or my clubs until after I'd gone out shopping to make sure I had something to wear," she said.

When she showed up wearing a loud shirt with big red, purple and green flowers on a black background, many assumed her luggage hadn't arrived. "You don't like it?" she said.

But with her own clothes and clubs she went to the course a happy camper - and she didn't blame her round on anything or anybody but herself.

"I've shot loads of eights," she said. "I've shot tens and elevens. Even had a twelve."

About the time Davies was dropping off the leaderboard, Inkster was taking her place.

Inkster went to the clubhouse right up there on the leaderboard with the new generation. But at this stage, she says, she can't help but cheer for the old gals.

"I'd love to see Laura and Meg win the tournaments they need to get in the Hall of Fame. They've done a lot for the tour," she said.

But it was her name on the leaderboard.

Maybe it's her week.


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