Forecasting success at Canadian Women's Open

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:22 PM ET

The long-range forecast for Thursday and Friday in Winnipeg calls for sunny skies and a high of 29 C.

Then again, when doesn’t the long-range look that good, only to have it deteriorate into cold, wind and rain when the day actually arrives?

Regardless of what Mother Nature delivers, St. Charles Country Club head professional Cory Kartusch believes he has an idea of what the winning score will be at the LPGA’s CN Canadian Women’s Open.

And the number at the top of the leaderboard come late next Sunday afternoon will depend largely on every Manitoban’s favourite topic: the weather.

“For wet conditions I’ll say 14 under,” Kartusch said one sunny morning last week, sitting behind the desk in his corner office of the St. Charles pro shop. “If it’s firm and fast it could be as high as 6 or 7 under.”

The US$2.25 million event is finally here, and competitors are expected to start trickling into the private club in western Winnipeg on Sunday.

The 72-hole event tees off on Thursday morning on the MacKenzie (north) and Ross (south) nines.

“It’s very exciting,” Kartusch said as workers preparing the course whizzed by his office window on carts. “It’s a big thing for St. Charles, for Winnipeg, for Manitoba.

“With the field that Golf Canada has been able to attract to this, it’s somewhat overwhelming to think that the event’s actually here. The time has come.”

Kartusch is right about the field. Forty-eight of the top 50 LPGA money winners, prior to the stop that concludes Sunday in Oregon, will be in Winnipeg.

The only two who won’t are one who retired (Lorena Ochoa) and another who is injured (Natalie Gulbis).

The venerable 27-hole layout, which is unique in that it was designed by both the legendary Donald Ross and Dr. Alister MacKenzie, is a traditional country club course that can appear straightforward upon first glance.

Naturally, it’s not that simple.

“St. Charles is classically known … as a difficult place to read greens because of the combination of breaks in the greens,” Kartusch said.

“On a longer putt there’s always two or three breaks and they’re subtle.

“They’re not large breaks in front of you.”

Throw in the wacky Winnipeg weather and you’ve got all the ingredients for a terrific tournament, where the world’s best women golfers will have to keep one eye on the leaderboard and the other on the course.

“After rain events we’re very soft and the players will find it easy to access some pins and the fairways will be a little easier to hit because there’s not as much ball roll, but the course will be playing longer,” Kartusch said.

“As soon as this golf course starts to dry out, which it’s in the process of doing, when we get firm and fast and the rough is long, the golf course will play a number of shots tougher than if we’re soft and moist.

“So this golf course could play differently on a day-to-day basis. If we get rain on Wednesday it will change if we don’t get any more rain by Sunday. They will be playing a very different golf course on Sunday than they played on Thursday, which makes it exciting.”

There are currently 13 Canadians scheduled to be in the field, although that number could increase through the four spots available in Monday qualifying at Elmhurst Golf and Country Club.

While patriotism will no doubt be front and centre at the year’s only LPGA stop in Canada, those with their chests puffed out the most might just be the St. Charles members themselves.

“We’ve done this once every 10 years, and what we get out of it is the enjoyment from our members side of seeing some of the best players in the world attack our golf course,” Kartusch said.

“Around the club it’s a sense of pride. That’s the biggest thing that we get out of it — a sense of pride in what we do here as a club and how the members have developed the golf course.

“It’s an opportunity to show the golf world what we can do.”

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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