The West Coast experience

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

A simple change of scenery has done wonders for Kaitlin Troop.

Troop, who won the Manitoba Junior Women's and Women's Amateur titles in 2006, spent the past golf season on the left coast with the UBC Thunderbirds program and the Brandon product raves when asked to comment on the experience.

"I had a really good year out there," said Troop, who shot another 2-under 71 yesterday at Glendale Golf & Country Club to give her a two-round total of 142 and a 13-stroke lead over Southwood's Vanessa Watson in the 2007 Manitoba Women's Amateur championship.

"I got along with the team and my coach (Chris MacDonald) really well. Vancouver is an awesome city. It's nice to be able to play on the coast, where there's not snow all the time and the season is longer."

Troop spent one season at Illinois State and is glad she came back to Canadian soil to continue her golf career.

"I just feel a lot more at home here," said Troop. "It's a totally different feeling than in the states. The people are a lot different here and at UBC. In the states, there's a lot more competition within teams. Here, we support each other, we're really good friends and we hang out off the golf course as well.

"We focused a lot more on my mental game and fitness, which is important to me. I found that helped a lot with making the experience better."

Among the highlights from last season was a fourth overall finish at the Canadian University/College Championship in New Brunswick.

"I was struggling a little bit with my swing, but I was able to get up and down a lot and I putted really well," said Troop, who helped the Thunderbirds win a fourth consecutive women's team title.

"It was a good result and a good way to end the year, since we had a tough tournament the week before at the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) Championship."

Troop hasn't been playing a whole lot since finishing the school year. She's working in the pro shop and restaurant at Clear Lake.

"I've been taking time off," said Troop, who is studying human kinetics at UBC and considering going into physical therapy at some point.

"It was definitely a long season and it was nice to have a few weeks off before starting up with tournaments again."

Even though she came in as the defending champion and the other players are gunning for her title, Troop didn't feel any extra pressure coming into this week.

"Not really. By playing a lot of tournament golf, I've been able to get over those feelings and I take it as a normal day of golf," said Troop. "I'm just doing my own thing out there."

In the Senior Women's event, defending champion Judi Lidstone of Elmhurst shot 77 to give her a two-round total of 160 and a two-shot lead over first-round leader and clubmate Donna Brownridge.


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