Kirby conquers Camelot

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

Kirby Dreher had a caddie and a place to stay already lined up.

Now the 21-year-old amateur has the most important part: An exemption into the CN Canadian Women's Open at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club Aug. 11-17.

Despite scrambling all over the heaving acres of the Camelot Golf and Country Club, Dreher won the final event of the CN Canadian Women's Tour and the exemption with an eventful final-round 4-over 76 and two-day total of 1-under 143.

The Kent State senior -- who started the day with a four-shot lead -- bogeyed Camelot's 18th and its diabolical green, but held off a pack of three players by a stroke, including the hard-charging Corina Kelepouris.

Kelepouris, a veteran pro from Drayton Valley, Alta. -- now based in the winter months in La Quinta, Calif. -- had the day's low round, a 69, which also included a bogey on 18.

Also tied for second were amateur Sara-Maude Juneau of Fossambault, Que., who held the lead, but was done in by double bogeys on the 14th and 16th to wind up 1-over for the day; and pro Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C., who had her second-straight even-par round of 72.

"My brother said he had time off booked to caddie in the Open. That's a lot of pressure," said Dreher, whose brother Shelby, is a pro in their hometown of Fort St. John, B.C.

In Ottawa, Dreher stayed with an aunt, uncle and two cousins, so she has a ready-made gallery for the Open.

"Playing in the Open was my biggest goal of the summer, of the year," said Dreher, who had five birdies, seven bogeys and a double yesterday.

One of her rare pars was a beauty on 14, knocking her second shot under trees on the-par 4 and up onto the elevated green.

"(The Open is) probably the most exciting event I'll ever get to play," she said. "It's a good feeling, but it's going to be weird being a player instead of a spectator."

Exemptions were also handed out to the next four players on the Order of Merit not otherwise exempt: Kelepouris (845 points), Seema Sadekar of Toronto (832.5 points), Richdale (725 points) and Jessica Carafiello of Coral Springs, Fla. (712.5 points).

TEEN DOUBLED UP

Phenom Sue Kim, 17, who dominated the tour this summer with two wins and tied for fifth yesterday after shooting 74 for a 145 total -- in the final event -- won the Jocelyn Bourassa Trophy as the top points earner on the Order of Merit with 1,487.5 points.

Had Kim been a pro, she would have earned close to $17,000 for her wins ($6,875 apiece) and Order of Merit crown ($3,000 bonus).

Dreher popped the cork on champagne outside the Camelot clubhouse and poured a toast for all the players who earned exemptions.

Kelepouris, 35, won't be approaching the Open with the same wide-eyed awe as the amateurs.

"The shock and awe are finished," said Kelepouris, who had good friend Ken Hitchcock, coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, in her gallery.

"This time I feel I can be competitive if I do the best I can. It's a large stage, but it's what I do."

Kelepouris has won a couple of times on the Cactus Tour this year, a mini-tour in Phoenix, and is fifth on that tour's money list.

Juneau, a member of the national amateur team who finished second at the Quebec Amateur at Camelot last week, could only look on while the exempt players sipped champagne and plan a trip back to Camelot for the final qualifier the Monday of Open week.

"I didn't know I was in the lead and it was slipping away," said Juneau, who was tied for the lead after Dreher double-bogeyed the par-3 11th.

"But I know I can play solid. I have to learn from this mistake."

Juneau will play in the Canadian Women's Amateur later this month in Winnipeg and has an exemption into the U.S. Women's Amateur the week before the Canadian Women's Open.

Marie-Josee Rouleau of St-Lambert, Que., had a 70 yesterday to tie Kim for fifth and was named the top club/teaching professional for both the event and the tour.


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