Dawn of a new era

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:54 AM ET

Dawn Coe-Jones knocked her ball a little off line on the par-3 15th hole yesterday at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club during a pro-am for the CN Canadian Women's Open.

"It's heavy air...and I'm on B.C. time," said the Canadian Golf Hall of Famer, a native of Campbell River, B.C. "I've got a lot of excuses today."

Coe-Jones, who is playing in her last Women's Open this week, doesn't need to apologize.

A three-time winner on the LPGA Tour and the most successful Canadian on home soil, her record speaks for itself. Coe-Jones banked $3.3 million in her 25-year career, has been the top Canadian in this tournament 13 times (PEI's Lorie Kane is next with seven) and is the top money-earner at this tournament with $338,800 in her career.

This tournament marks the 35th anniversary of the last time a Canadian won on home soil (Jocelyne Bourassa in Montreal when it was known as La Canadienne) and Coe-Jones is the player who has come closest since, just missing out in a playoff at the London Hunt and Country Club in 1993 and finishing third.

When she passed through Ottawa earlier this spring, she said this would be her last year so it was no surprise when Landmark Sport Group, her management company, made it official yesterday, sending out a press release confirming the news.

A few minutes later, Coe-Jones walked off the 18th green at the Hunt after completing her pro-am round.

The 48-year-old says she'll be happy being a hockey mom post-golf, but faced with having to pay for hockey equipment for 12-year-old son, Jimmy, Coe-Jones said she might have to find employment to supply the hockey habit.

"I don't mind (being a hockey mom) at all. But I have seen the price tag on a few of the items. Someone said he's going to be moving into adult sizes and you're not going to want to be buying skates and items such as that. All right, I need another job," she said, though it's not like she'll have to be handing out resumes as she walks off each green this week.

"I'll find something to do, but the nice thing is I don't have to figure that out tomorrow or the next day. I can take my time."

As you might expect, she has a lot of great memories of her fine career, but the way this final year has unfolded won't be one of them.

BROKE HER FOOT

She broke her foot -- badly, as it turned out, a spiral fracture and a high-ankle sprain -- Feb. 1 when she slipped running across the street in Atlanta while attending one of Jimmy's hockey tournaments. She was on the shelf for about four months.

"It took a lot more time healing then I hoped. Disappointed would be an understatement," she said yesterday.

The down time permitted her plenty of opportunity to come to what sounds like a reluctant acceptance that it is time for her to embrace another phase of her life.

"I've had a lot of time to think about a lot of things and moving on is one of them. I've had lots of great fun out there, gosh. Played lots of great golf courses here and across the States. Met lots of super people. Twenty-five years," she said, "that's enough."

She endeared herself to fans and fellow players with her self-deprecating wit and she showed another generation of Canadian players what being a pro is all about.

'SHE'S A FUNNY LADY'

"She's a funny lady. She keeps things light," said Hamilton's Alena Sharp, one of Canada's rising players who looks up to Coe-Jones. "She's done a lot for Canadian golf. She's always been someone everybody looked up to. It's unfortunate she's retiring and it's too bad she's been injured and hasn't been able to play out the whole year. She's going to be missed."

Coe-Jones will enjoy this week, even if it is tinged with bittersweet feelings.

Her great friend, Lisa Walters, will be inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame later in the week and she'll enjoy celebrating that. Coe-Jones will have a chance to see many of the young Canadian players she perhaps inspired.

"We looked up to Sandra Post and Jocelyne Bourassa and knew there was an avenue, there was a way to get out here and be a pro," she said. "Now you're seeing Alena and some of the other gals come up.

"If I inspired anybody to get out there and work hard, then I feel good about that."

Dawn Coe-Jones can feel good about that, about this week, about the last 25 years and what lies ahead.


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