Sweet 16 of Canucks look to break drought

Alena Sharp of Canada plays her second shot at the par 5, 18th hole during the first round of the...

Alena Sharp of Canada plays her second shot at the par 5, 18th hole during the first round of the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills Country Club on March 29, 2012 in Rancho Mirage, California. (David Cannon/Getty Images/AFP)

TODD SAELHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:44 AM ET

CALGARY - O Canada.

Where have you been lo these many years when it comes to being in contention for the Canadian Women’s Open?

We have to go back four decades to find the last homegrown winner of the national championship. That was Jocelyne Bourassa back in 1973 — the first year of the tournament — when the event was held at the Montreal Municipal Golf Club.

Since then, it’s been a dry spell for Canucks — and nobody is holding their breath to see a winner this week at the Vancouver Golf Club.

“We’d like to see a bunch of Canadians make the cut,” said tournament director Sean Van Kesteren. “Certainly, there’s a lot of strong amateur Canadians.”

The current field includes 16 Canadians looking to make history.

Of course, Hamilton’s Alena Sharp and Charlottetown’s Lorie Kane are the wily veterans of the group.

“I’ve reassessed my goal during the year,” Sharp said. “My goal now is to get in the top 70.

Behind Sharp and Canadian golf’s longtime sweetheart Kane is a bevy of young phenoms — tour pros and amateurs — including Rebecca Lee-Bentham of Richmond Hill, Ont., Stephanie Sherlock of Barrie, Ont., Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C., Isabelle Beisiegel of Saint-Hilaire, Que., Jessica Shepley of Oakville, Ont., Sue Kim of Langley, B.C., Kirby Dreher of Fort St. John, B.C., Sara Maude Juneau of Fossambault, Que., and Natalie Gleadall of Stratford, Ont.

Also competing in Coquitlam, B.C., will be Team Canada members Augusta James of Bath, Ont., Jisoo Keel of Coquitlam, Brittany Marchand of Orangeville, Ont., Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., and Christine Wong of Richmond, B.C., who makes her appearance with a tourney exemption.

“It’s always nice to have more Canadians on tour,” Sharp said. “The last few years, there haven’t been that many.”

Unfortunately, fans in Vancouver won’t see talented tour rookie Maude-Aimée

LeBlanc, who’s sidelined with a stress fracture in her back.

But Henderson is the latest attraction for Canadian golf fans. Her victory at a CN Canadian Women’s Tour event earlier this summer made her the youngest golfer ever to win a pro golf tour event (14 years, nine months and three days).

Henderson, who also claimed the national junior title at Calgary’s River Spirit in runaway style, will be the youngest player to compete for Canada’s women’s open championship.

“They’re all great players,” Van Kesteren said. “We’re going to pair them together the first two days — we have that flexibility. And we’ll get them some TV time. We want to give them the full experience.

“They’re going to get big support,” Van Kesteren added. “It’s a really good number of Canadians. Canada will be well represented.”

todd.saelhof@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNToddSaelhof 


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