Mountain air translates to long drives

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

LPGA stars agree Priddis Greens is breathtaking -- in more ways than one.

Yes, the general consensus is that "beautiful" describes the host course of the 2009 CN Canadian Women's Open.

But, most important, is the business at hand, and the air up here is an adjustment for the players in their pursuit of claiming the championship on the course just southwest of Calgary.

"Oxygen lacking ... thought process waning," said a playful but out-of-breath Christina Kim during practice rounds earlier this week at Priddis Greens. "I don't like altitude.

"We've been doing some fist-bumps out here," Kim continued, in reference to her enthusiasm during Team USA's 2009 Solheim Cup win two weeks ago in Illinois.

"But I'm so tired, I wait for everybody to come to me."

Certainly, the thinner air at Priddis -- at 4,300 feet, about 600 feet higher than Calgary -- takes its toll physically on golfers.

And it's especially true after the Safeway Classic was played last week at close to sea level in Oregon.

"The altitude, as far as walking some of those hills? Yes, it does," said Canada's Lorie Kane, when asked if the elevation change affects her game. "I'd like to check my heart rate after the 12th hole."

"And it's a very hilly course, especially the back nine," added current tour money leader Cristie Kerr. "So you have to manage your energy over the week."

Then there's the issue of how the altitude affects ball flight at the private course.

By the time they take to this morning's first round, the 156 players -- for the most part -- will have adjusted well to the elevation change, adding about 5% additional length to each shot.

"My caddie knows that -- he's pretty good at judging," Kerr said. "You definitely use him more, but I work great with my caddie, John Killeen, every week, and we just try and keep it simple because a lot of things change. But temperature and altitude make the ball go further."

"Yeah, that's where a good caddie comes in, and I rely heavily on (caddie) Danny (Sharp) to give me two numbers -- the actual one and what it's playing," Kane added. "But we play enough in Mexico, in two events where altitude is an issue. So we get accustomed to it."


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