CALGARY - Yani Tseng, Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr, Karrie Webb …
The list goes on and on for the CN Canadian Women’s Open.
Yup, it’s shaping up to be a star-studded field — one that includes 48 of the world’s top 50 female golfers on the planet — for the annual LPGA Tour stop.
That in itself makes it worthy of its ‘fifth major’ nickname.
“There’s Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis and Michelle Wie — obviously, fans love them,” said Hamilton’s Alena Sharp, Canada’s answer to who’s the one to watch among host-country players for Thursday’s start of the event at the Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam, B.C.
“Lexi Thompson has made a name for herself — she’s young and has a lot of star power.
“And Stacy Lewis is having a fantastic year — she’s impressive,” continued Sharp of the season’s top-money earner, with US$1.22 million so far in her bank account. “She’s thin and fit and pounds the ball out there.
In fact, the only two golfers ranked inside the top 50 who aren’t available to play are injured — Se Ri Pak (shoulder) and Caroline Hedwell (hip).
“All that young talent,” Sharp said, “is good for the LPGA.”
It’s also good for the CN Canadian Women’s Open.
It doesn’t hurt that there’s a cool $2 million up for grabs, especially since only four other tournaments during the LPGA’s calendar year boast richer prize pots.
“The purse obviously helps,” said defending champion Brittany Lincicome, who took home $337,500 from the event last year. “But it’s so much more for us.
“We always consider it the fifth major because of how great a tournament it is,” Lincicome continued. “They take care of us, and they even take care of our caddies. The host hotel always has a room for us to hang out in.
“It’s definitely one I would never miss.”
Neither would any Canadian golfer, given that it’s played in their backyard.
“For me, personally, that’s true,” said Sharp, who echoes Lincicome’s sentiments, adding host sponsor CN always runs a solid event. “We definitely see it as a fifth major, especially if you’re Canadian.
“There’s definitely a Canadian bond at this event,” Sharp continued. “You always hear ‘Canada is cheering for you’ — the volunteers tell us that all the time.
“We get a great turnout of fans and volunteers, and attendance always seems to be up for it. It makes me proud to be Canadian. It’s nice to be out there in front of the home crowd. There’s nothing like it.
“And I love playing in front of a big Canadian crowd — it gets the adrenaline pumping.”