Drought may drone on

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Thirty-four years and counting.

Unless Hamilton's Alena Sharp sets the CN Canadian Women's Open on fire this weekend, storming to the top from about 35 spots back, it'll be 34 years since a home- grown girl won the tournament.

She's the last, best chance to get anywhere near the lead after a hard-luck Friday that saw the Canadian contingent ripped to shreds by the cutline. Out of 15 Canucks who teed it up on Thursday, only three survived to see the weekend.

Lorie Kane. Cut. Dawn Coe-Jones. Cut. Christine Boucher and Kim Brozer. Cut. Cut. Stephanie Sherlock, Jessica Potter and Kira Meixner. Cut. Cut. Cut.

"Extremely disappointing," Kane said after exiting the tournament 10-over par (75-77). "On a scale of 1 to 10 this is definitely a 10. It sucks. I don't know how else to say it.

"The expectations we place on ourselves as Canadians to come here and play the best that we can ... and when it doesn't work out it's really disappointing for each of us."

A.J. Eathorne (73-72) and fellow veteran Nancy Harvey (72-73) spent most of the day below the cutline, wondering if the field would back up and they could sneak into the weekend.

They did. Barely.

"For the most part we're all struggling a little bit," Eathorne said of Team Canada.

"We all seem to be sharing it. It must be the Canadian love; we hurt with each other and smile with each other. But we've got some great young ones coming up."

The country is anxiously awaiting their arrival. It's been six years since Kane's last win, meaning it's been six years since a Canadian's last win.

"I think we're kind of stalled," admitted Kane. "I think there can be more done, there can be more programs for those kids who show potential - right across the country, not just in the bigger provinces."

The LPGA is deeper and stronger than it's ever been and it seems, based on results, that Canadians are having a tough time keeping up.

"The girls are stronger, they're longer off the tee," said Harvey, who's winding her career down after 19 years in the pros.

"They're working out, they're working on their nutrition, flexibility, sports psychologists, everything.

"When I first got out here you could shoot a pair of 75s and get in on the weekend. That's no longer the case. Especially on the weekends, if you shoot anything above par you're down the road, you're down at the back of the pack."

Which is where most of the Canadians were this week. The easy answer is that Canada's climate isn't conducive to golf, but it snows in Korea, too, and they're churning out contenders like we churn out hockey players.

"They're very focused and they practise 24-7," said Eathorne, a nine-year LPGA veteran. "Canadians don't tend to do that. We do practise, we love the game. We're all heart."

But it's not the sole focus.

"That's a good thing, let girls enjoy other sports," said Eathorne, who played them all growing up. "I'm a better person because of it. I might not be a better golfer, but I'm glad I got to experience all that.

"I don't think Michelle Wie got to experience anything other than golf. That's too bad. That work ethic is great, but happiness is not equalled by money ... fortunately for those of us who haven't quite made all the money. I'm just having fun doing what I'm doing and I'm very lucky to be doing it."


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