Heaven and Hull

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way as you may obtain it.

1 Corinthians 9:24

As Katherine Hull walked off the 18th tee at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club yesterday, walking towards the retreating sun, she reached into her pocket and unfolded a piece of paper.

The Australian flipped it over and began reading as she stepped toward the green almost 500 yards away and a silver prize that threw off the golden rays.

As she had while tying the course record Friday, Hull busied her mind and calmed her spirit by reading Scriptures yesterday, like the one above, as she pulled off what amounts to a miracle in golf, coming from six shots back to win the CN Canadian Women's Open, her first victory in 109 starts on the LPGA Tour.

On a leaderboard crowded at the top with major tournament winners, Hull, surprisingly, was the unflappable one yesterday.

She obtained the prize with a 3-under 69 for an 11-under-total of 277, one shot better than resurgent Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak, who four-putted the sixth green and wound up with a 72 and a 279 total and two better than the disintegrating teenager Yani Tseng, who entered the final round with a four-shot lead over Pak and six better than Hull, but bludgeoned her way to a 77 that left her in tears.

Of course, Hull has seen much of this world with her 26-year-old eyes and a soul that seems much older. Seeing the crushing poverty in Rwanda lends a certain perspective when standing over a two-foot putt.

Hull was one of a group of LPGA pros who visited Africa last October with Betsy King's Golf Fore Africa where Hull sponsors three children through World Vision. She met one of them in Rwanda.

"I broke down as I was leaving. I knew what he was going back to and what I was going back to," she told an Australian newspaper after her visit. "It changes your perspective of what poverty really is. Such desperation and need matched by inspiration and hope."

One of the things which motivates her to play well is the chance to change other people's lives, like those of her sponsored children and others.

She knows as a professional golfer she can make a lot money, "a lot more than we should," she said, and the $337,500 US she won yesterday is certainly proof of that. One of her goals is to build a school in Rwanda and yesterday's cheque will no doubt put her well on her way.

Hull was simply the steadiest of the bunch, making just one bogey while Pak and Tseng, playing behind Hull and defending champion Lorena Ochoa in the last group, endured all kinds of calamities. Pak had that four-putt from 25 feet for a double bogey. Tseng chili-dipped a couple of pitches on the short 11th hole and made a double.

"She was very calm," said Ochoa of Hull, a good friend from their college golf days. "She looked like she was enjoying it."

"I didn't look at a leaderboard until the 16th hole," said Hull, "and I wasn't intentionally looking at it. When I went to tap in my putt, I caught a glance and saw that I was first. I mean, I got a little excited ... I tried to do today what worked Friday and it turned out."

Hull's victory was a popular one among her peers.

As she stood outside the scoring tent on the 18th hole, accepting congratulations, Pak walked off the 18th and gave her an enthusiastic pat on the butt.

Hull's win here yesterday will send out ripples far beyond the tree-lined fairways of the Hunt Club or the country club coziness of a professional golf tour. Her first call was going to be her parents back home in Australia, half a world away.

There are likely no telephones handy in Rwanda and it will likely be a while before Hull's "adopted" children there hear of her victory.

They will likely not understand immediately how hoisting a silver trophy in a golden sun has the potential to change Hull's life and by wonderful extension, theirs.


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