Mussani repeats route 66

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

"Holy cow." That utterance came from rising Canadian star Salimah Mussani after watching her 39-foot birdie attempt roll over a final undulation, curl right and drop into the 16th cup at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club.

It also about sums up what everyone else was thinking of Mussani's play the past two days.

The 26-year-old from Burlington fired a second consecutive 6-under 66 to capture the CN Canadian Women's Tour event yesterday. While coming within a stroke of tying the course record (established by the LPGA's Martha Nause 12 years ago) for the second time in 24 hours, Mussani claimed the top prize of $5,000 by a whopping eight shots.

Former Quebec amateur champion Lisa Meldrum was the runner-up after a second-round 69 left her with a two-day total of 4-under. American amateur Laura Matthews finished third at 3-under, while Milton's Jessica Shepley (2-under) and Delta, B.C., amateur Kira Meixner (1-under) were the only other golfers to break par.

"Riding through the course (Sunday) I told my caddy (fellow Futures Tour player Lisa Fernandes) I didn't think under par would win," said Mussani, who wound up with 15 birdies and three, three-putt bogeys over the 36 holes. "It looked tough.

"But I guess if it's hot, it's hot."

The "it" could refer to both Mussani's putter -- which she says has been "co-operative of late" -- and her overall game. She was solid from tees in, missing just three greens in regulation over the two days.

Her course management wasn't bad, either.

Needing an eagle on the par-5 18th yesterday for a share of the course standard, Mussani elected to lay up rather than go for a green that was uphill, guarded by an ugly bunker and about 230 yards away.

"Sixty yards was my number all day," she said, referring to the distance from which she stuck shots tight to the pin on three holes. "There's no need to be the hero at that point. Just hit it to my number."

TOP LOCAL

Naturally, Mussani put the shot from her "number" within three feet, allowing herself a tap-in birdie before the small crowd around No. 18.

"I'm very happy for her, she deserves everything she gets," said Claudia Beauchesne, a Gatineau native who now teaches at Rosemere Golf Club in Laval and was the top local at this event at 11-over. "She's in a stretch where her confidence is so high, she's hitting the ball so good. She knows she can win right now, and that's what it's all about. Confidence is the key to the game."

The win was the third in eight weeks for Mussani, who now has captured two of the Canadian Tour's three events this season as well as a Futures tournament.

But never has she been as good as she was this week.

"I had a 68-67 at the Futures," she said, "but 66-66 is pretty special."

WORKING ON LPGA CARD

Mussani has earned a spot in the CN Canadian Women's Open, to be played next month in London. She is also on course for a good shot at her LPGA Tour card. Top 5 players on the Futures earn one, with the next 10 (not including exemptions) automatically move to the final stage of Q-school.

Mussani is currently 11th on the list and she has missed five events, mostly due to the Lupus (autoimmune disorder) disease she now appears to have under control.

"I've been taking it one shot at a time the last few months," said Mussani. "When you finally learn to do that, it's amazing. The game is so easy."

Earning spots in the Canadian Open following yesterday's play because of their Top 5 standing on the Order of Merit were Corina Kelepouris (Drayton Valley, Alta.) Meldrum, Shepley, Michelle Simpson (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) and Cheryl Mitchell (Walpole Island).


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