'Exciting time' for LPGA Tour

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:36 PM ET

First Annika Sorenstam ruled the roost.

Then Lorena Ochoa grabbed the crown and never let go.

Today, however, there is no one player who is dominating the LPGA Tour. There is more leapfrog being played at the top of the world ranking than there is in most local daycares.

Before, it used to be: Who wants to be second best?

Now, it's a much more simple question: Who wants to be the best?

"This is the most exciting time for the LPGA Tour," said American Cristie Kerr, who has been No. 1 in the world ranking twice this year but dropped to No. 2 last weekend. "It's great to have a player like Annika or Lorena dominate for so many years, but this is a more exciting time for us, where you just don't know what's going to happen.

"It's like a movie that keeps twisting and turning until the end, and then you go wow, what a great movie that was. You know, it kept you engaged the whole time."

Luckily for Manitoba golf fans, they get to watch that thrilling cinema unfold right in their own back yard over the next four days. The LPGA Tour's CN Canadian Women's Open tees off Thursday morning at St. Charles Country Club. The purse is $2.25 million U.S., which ties it for the fourth.

That champion, especially these days, could be anybody.

Then again, the hottest female golfer of the planet right now is Ai Miyazato, who not coincidentally is the latest to lay claim to No. 1 in the world. On Sunday in Oregon the 25-year-old Japanese star won for the fifth time this season. She would love to hold on to her elite ranking, but she has another mission in mind.

"It's really good for my motivation, but my biggest goal is (to) become the player of the year this year," Miyazato said. "I can experience many good things by competing around the top, so those experiences will really come into good use later on in my career."

Forty-eight of the top 50 players in the world are slated to tee it up this week at St. Charles, the first time the club has hosted a major tour event since the Champions Tour stopped by in 2000.

The course is playing at more than 6,500 yards, and the golfers are facing a stern test thanks to little rain and plenty of wind over the last week in southern Manitoba.

Thursday's forecast calls for sunny skies and a 30 km/h wind out of the south, which means the scores could take off with the breeze.

"It seems like a windy place, so it depends on the wind," Miyazato said. "Maybe it's going to play really tough. If it's not wind, some players can shoot really low scores."

While Miyazato is focusing on the player of the year award, Kerr, who sits second in the world ranking, badly wants to move up a notch this week on the shores of the Assiniboine River.

"It means everything to me, and I'm going to leave nothing in the tank this year and however many more years of my career that I will have," said Kerr, who finished second to Miyazato last week in Oregon.

"So yeah, I want it. There's no doubt about it."

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca

THE WORLD'S BEST

The players who have been ranked No. 1 in the world women's golf ranking since it was introduced in 2006:

Player Dates Weeks

Annika Sorenstam 2/21/06 to 4/22/07 60

Lorena Ochoa 4/23/07 to 5/2/10 158

Jiyai Shin 5/3/10 to 6/20/10 7

Ai Miyazato 6/21/10 to 6/27/10 1

Cristie Kerr 6/28/10 to 7/18/10 3

Ai Miyazato 7/19/10 to 7/25/10 1

Jiyai Shin 7/26/10 to 8/15/10 3

Cristie Kerr 8/16/10 to 8/22/10 1

Ai Miyazato 8/23/10 to ??


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