Have clubs, will travel is the motto of Canadian professional golfer Lorie Kane, one of the invited players in the $400,000 Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open at Pegasus Town, near Christchurch, starting tomorrow (Thursday).
She is one of the class acts in the best line up of women golfers ever assembled in New Zealand. The 130-strong field includes defending champion and winner of the 2008 Order of Merit, Gwladys Nocera, of France, former world No. 1 Laura Davies (England), American Diana D’Alessio and South African Open champion Tandi Cuningham.
A large Australian contingent including last year’s joint runner-ups, Sarah Kemp and Nikki Garrett, Sarah Oh, Kristie Smith and Queensland’s Sarah-Jane Smith, current leader of the ALPG points series are among the starters along with leading New Zealanders Cathryn Bristow, Sarah Nicholson, former LET Tour player Liz McKinnon and the top amateur from last year, 15-year-old Cecilia Cho.
Kane, a four-time winner on the United States LPGA tour, wasted little time in enquiring if there was a place in the field for her on learning that the co-sanctioned European (LET) and Australasian (ALPG) event preceded the two Australian tournaments next month.
“Last year I played the ANZ Masters at Royal Pines before going to Hawaii for the first LPGA event of the year so I decided if I was going to come this far I might as well play all three events instead of one,’’ Kane said, before teeing off in today’s pro-am.
“As soon as we finished the (LPGA) tour last October I asked my agent if we could give Mr Tuohy (Tuohy Associates is the tournament promoter) a call and see if we could get in.
“I’m interested in playing wherever I can play. The co-sanctioning of this event with the ALPG and LET tours is good for women’s golf. I just want to play golf and will travel to do it – it’s great if we can help him (developer Bob Robertson) promote his product as he’s helping us to promote ours, it’s win-win.’’
Kane, 49, has compiled an impressive record in her 13 years as a professional. As well as her four LPGA wins, she has twice finished fourth at the United States Open, had a fifth place at the British Open, and has had nine top-10 finishes in majors.
However, Kane, who is based either at Prince Edward Island in Canada or in Florida in the United States, admits to having struck a lean form patch in recent years and has been practising hard in the off-season to remedy it.
“The last few years have not been up to par for me; to be brutally honest they’ve been quite disappointing. I’ve been working on getting back to the basics of my golf swing – I don’t have a very technical mind or swing – and it’s been a struggle.
“So I’m excited what the new year has to bring.’’
Assisting her with the technicalities have been regular coach-caddy, Danny Sharp, and Sean Foley, who has mentored some touring male professionals.
Kane, who remembers visiting New Zealand once before to contest the New Zealand amateur championships at Tauranga – “when Karrie Webb was 13 or 14 years old’’ – was complimentary of the Pegasus course which only opened last December.
“The greens are very good, firm and rolling very nice, and the fairways are tight. You really have to think, especially on the back nine, where you are going to your shots and it is not a driver on every hole. The course has matured quite nicely and I can see it only getting better.’’