Women's Open gets shafted

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

The recent success of Canadians on the Duramed Futures Tour offers hope that more players from this country will play soon on the LPGA Tour.

On the flip side, their success also means they won't be available to play in this year's CN Canadian Women's Open in Calgary due to its September dates.

Oshawa's Angela Buzminski won the Historic Brownsville Open in Texas yesterday to mark the second consecutive victory for a Canadian on the main development circuit for the LPGA Tour after Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C., win the Louisiana Pelican Classic a week ago.

Both players and other Canadians will be focused on making the top 10 on the Futures Tour money list at the end of the season in order to receive LPGA Tour status for next year.

That makes the final event of the Futures Tour season so critical for a player looking to realize her dream of playing the LPGA Tour.

The problem is that the ILoveNY Championship in Albany, N.Y., is the same weekend that the Canadian Women's Open is played at Priddis Greens, Sept. 3-6.

Players don't want to lose their shot at making it to the LPGA Tour, so missing their national open is inevitable if they're anywhere close.

With the victory, Buzminski leads the Futures Tour money list with Richdale second.

The clash of dates could also affect somebody such as Oakville's Jessica Shepley, who finished seventh on last year's Futures Tour money list.

The result could leave the Canadian Women's Open without four of this country's more accomplished professionals.

The dates for the Canadian Women's Open were juggled this year from its normal late August position to accommodate the Solheim Cup between the United States and Europe, to be played Aug. 21-23.

With just two homebrews -- Hamilton's Alena Sharp and Charlottetown's Lorie Kane -- playing regularly on the LPGA Tour the Canadian contingent that will play in Calgary has been thinned out considerably.

Outside of Sharp and Kane, the Canadians will consist mostly of amateurs from the Royal Canadian Golf Association's national team and professionals who qualify through the Canadian Women's Tour.

According to Canadian Women's Open tournament director Sean Van Kesteren, the RCGA had a couple of options provided to it for rescheduling the event, but the alternative early summer date ran too close to the men's RBC Canadian Open.

Here's what the LPGA Tour could have considered. Take the last seven events of the Futures Tour season and move them forward by one week, so the blank dates that are opposite the U.S. Women's Open in July are filled.

DOUBLE STANDARD

That way, the end of the Futures Tour season would come a week earlier and the Albany event wouldn't conflict with the Canadian event.

Of course, that plan just wouldn't do for two reasons, one being that the U.S. Women's Open is a major. It's also a national championship, meaning many Futures Tour players would like to qualify to play. Sound familiar?

Apparently, in the LPGA's eyes, the importance of playing in your home country's national open only applies to Americans wanting to play in their national championship.

As for the Canadian event not being a major, that's in name only because CN has quickly taken the tournament to that exalted status, albeit unofficially, since coming on board as title sponsor. It's a head-scratcher why the LPGA Tour would hand a premier event on its schedule such awkward dates.

The Canadian Women's Open is now as much of a marquee event as most LPGA majors, so it seems prudent the tour would do everything it could to improve the dates instead of inconveniencing it and Canadian players.


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