Sherlock will scramble for LPGA action

IAN HUTCHINSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

TORONTO - It's entirely unfair to mention to Barrie's Stephanie Sherlock that, on Feb. 10, it will be exactly 10 years since a Canadian won on the LPGA Tour, that coming at the 2001 LPGA Takefuji Classic, won by Lorie Kane.

Sherlock was 13 at the time and she now joins Kane and Hamilton's Alena Sharp as one of the Canadians seeking to turn things around after her tie for 14th at LPGA qualifying school last month in Daytona Beach. Her immediate priority before winning tournaments has to be getting into them.

By comparison, Matt McQuillan, a PGA Tour rookie from Kingston, started his season last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, but Sherlock won't get her rookie year underway until March when she plays in the new RR Donnelly Founders Club event, an inaugural charity tournament in Phoenix in late March.

The new Phoenix event brings to 25 the number of tournaments on this year's LPGA schedule. Due to its charitable status, there's no real money to be won for Sherlock, even though winnings from the mock purse at the Founders Club event will count on the money list.

If you consider that 25 events comprise the entire schedule this year, think back to when Kane played 30 tournaments her first full-time season on tour in 1997. Montreal's Lisa Meldrum and Sam Richdale of Kelowna, B.C. only played 13 each as rookies last year.

With so few tournaments and so many players in front of her in the pecking order, the atmosphere is hardly conducive to a breakout year for a rookie.

"How are you supposed to move your way up on the money list if you're not playing half the events? It's pretty tricky, but I think the key is obviously just to get off to a good start and I should be fine," said Sherlock, who estimates she will get into at least 11 LPGA tournaments and three Futures Tour events.

"You try to get into whatever you can and maybe at the last minute, somebody drops out and you get in," she added. "This year, it will just be take what you can get."

Such is the harsh economic reality of the LPGA Tour these days and Sherlock will round out her schedule with CN Canadian Women's Tour and mini-tour events.

The toughness she'll need in playing well while patching together a schedule was required in a different way at Q-school, where she shot rounds of 74-74-74-68-72 to finish at two-over despite brutal conditions, including the final day.

"We had an hour-and- a-half fog delay. I was the first tee time and I just made some putts that I didn't make the first few days. I actually played pretty decent the first two rounds," said Sherlock.

"I think the middle round, the third round, I shot 74 and that was actually a really good score because it was really, really windy, so it really started that day," said Sherlock, adding that she started hitting greens consistently in good conditions in the fourth round when she enjoyed her 68.

She went into the final round looking to make birdies, but the inclement weather returned. Sherlock admits that having an early tee time was to her advantage because the nastiness didn't appear until after she made the turn while others had to endure it for longer.

"The last day was miserable. Our last seven holes were rainy, 30 mile an hour winds. It was hang on for your life coming down the stretch, trying to make pars. Pars were good. It wasn't fun. It was nice to get done, that's for sure," she said.

"It started out and it was okay. It was windy, but it wasn't raining or anything and then, you could see this front coming," Sherlock said.

She now sees her rookie year on the LPGA Tour coming and the way things are shaping up, she'll take tournament rounds no matter how nasty the elements get.


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