Canuck girls gone missing

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

When one wonders what's wrong with the state of the women's game in this country, there's no better person to ask than Sandra Post.

Post, who won eight times on the LPGA Tour, including once en route to being named rookie of the year in 1968, now keeps the pulse of the game through her Caledon, Ont., golf school.

"We've had a lull for a while," Post said in a recent interview.

"The last player that was contending would be Lorie (Kane)."

Kane, at 45, still is the best representative for Canadian women's golf on the LPGA Tour, but no one has emerged to carry the mantle.

And Kane, on the downswing of her illustrious career -- four wins, 15th on the LPGA's career money list with more than $7 million in earnings -- is starting to show signs that she may not be able to be competitive much longer.

In just three starts this season, the Charlottetown native has missed the cut twice and been disqualified once.

But Kane, who was named to the Order of Canada in 2006, certainly has done her part as not only our best player in recent times, but as a staunch supporter of the CN Canadian Women's Open.

So where is the next wave of golfers? Why has Kane been left to carry the flag while at the same time fighting hip issues?

Post says you have to look at the health of the game in North America for that answer and that it's not a problem unique to Canada.

"You have to look at the overall state of women's golf," she says. "The Americans aren't winning as much either. The whole face of the game is changing."

Post says the economic meltdown in 2009 had a huge impact on women's golf.

With companies spending less on sponsorship, it resulted in fewer tournaments, which resulted in fewer opportunities for fringe players, of which Canada has many at the moment.

Players such as Alena Sharp, Jessica Shepley and Lisa Meldrum need to be playing as much as possible to get better but that can't happen if they can't get into tournaments as often.

"Lorie sort of blossomed really late and I'm not sure that's going to happen anymore," Post said.

Kane's coach, Sean Foley (who got another feather in his cap on Sunday when student Justin Rose picked up his first career PGA Tour victory at the Memorial) insists she is not done.

"I think she has improved her game," Foley said recently, adding that he doesn't know if health issues will allow Kane to play the way she did when she was fourth in the world, but she still has game.

So, too, do Canada's up-and-comers, Foley says.

He said he expects Shepley, another student, to have full status on tour at the end of this year, and points to Jennifer Kirby, a collegiate standout who last week qualified for the U.S. Women's Open.

And that's just what we need, Post said. We need someone we can root for.

"When people have someone to follow, people get behind that," she said. "You're not reading stories in the papers about our girls because they're not playing as much and not contending."

With a strong Canadian contingent teeing it up this week in the State Farm Classic -- Kane, Sharp, Meldrum and Samantha Richdale -- hopefully we have something to get excited about.

Post says the game, in general, needs some intrigue. And some personality.

"I think Michelle Wie could just be the lightning rod that Tiger was to the PGA Tour," Post said. "I think she could be, but it's going to have to be soon. She could capture the imagination of the golf world -- I'm not saying she will, but she could.

"I wouldn't lump the (foreign) players all together, but people can't seem to relate. Wouldn't it be great if Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel and Paula Creamer could get something going?"


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