It is indeed a rare occasion when the LPGA Tour rolls into a Canadian community and when that does happen, it’s tough to get past the regular names people read about or watch on television, particularly those who hail from this country.
The last time what is now the CP Women’s Open stopped at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club in the nation’s capital was 2008, so several new faces have arrived since then, not the least of which is a local from nearby Smiths Falls, Ont., otherwise known as Brooke Henderson, who was 10 the last time the tour hit Ottawa.
There are more Canadians knocking on the tour’s door as well, even if they haven’t kicked it down just yet. One on a particularly hot streak is Brittany Marchand of Orangeville, Ont.
Marchand recently got her first Symetra Tour win at the PHC Classic, then followed up just last week with a playoff victory at the Data PGA Women’s Championship of Canada in Toronto, so she arrived in the nation’s capital with a lot of momentum behind her.
“I would say no really big adjustments for this week from the past two weeks. I don’t really know what clicked to be quite honest. I can’t really put my finger on what clicked for me” said Marchand, adding she wasn’t particularly feeling any pressure to win.
“It was just a normal week and it happened for me,” said Marchand.
“I know my game has been there all year. It’s just kind of came out in little moments here and there and not very consistently. It was nice to see myself put three rounds together, but for this week, I don’t really want to overthink it or overanalyze it,” she said.
“I know that I’m coming off of two really good weeks, but I just kind of want to go into it like I did any other week. It’s just another opportunity for me to play on the LPGA, which I think is awesome. It’s just going to be a learning experience no matter how I finish or how I do,” said Marchand.
This week isn’t her only LPGA appearance this season. Earlier this year, Marchand remained in contention until the final round of the Manulife LPGA Classic in Cambridge, Ont.
She will also be in France next month to play in the Evian Championship, the fifth and final major of the season, courtesy of her Symetra Tour win.
“I’m really excited for that week. It’s going to be a great experience. It’s going to be my first major. Not even having status on tour out here, it’s kind of cool to be able to play in a major and I think, again, I don’t really want to go into it expecting anything, really. I just want to go and have a great time and enjoy the experience,” said Marchand.
“I mean, it’s going to be somewhere I’ve never been before, and I’ve gotten a little bit of tips here and there like Alena (Sharp) and other girls saying what to practice, what to expect,” she added.
“I think it will be a good week no matter what happens, just because it will be another experience for me. Hopefully, I can use that one for going into next year when or if I get LPGA status,” she added.
The player Marchand defeated on the third playoff hole of the Data PGA Women’s Championship of Canada was her pal Augusta James, who also has a career win on the Symetra Tour. Jame’s hometown in Eastern Ontario isn’t too far from Ottawa and she expects to see a big contingent from Bath.
“I did hear a rumour that there is a bus leaving from Loyalist (her home club) to come on up here, so that’s extra cool, but I wouldn’t say that’s extra pressure though. The members down at Loyalist and the town of Bath is hugely supportive, so you can only feed off the positive energy for sure when they’re up here,” said James.
“Advantages, I don’t know. Playing the golf course an extra couple of times was nice. It allowed me to come out here and know where I was already going and hone in my practice and my practice rounds, but just in general it’s nice that I only had to drive up here two hours and not have to fly across the country,” she added.
“It’s beautiful to get to see the rest of the country, but it’s a nice, relaxing week for sure,” said James.
While her own career is certainly a big focus for James this week, so is her brother Austin’s who just turned professional and kicked off his pro career in Ottawa on the weekend at the National Capital Open to Support Our Troops, a Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada event.
“I don’t know if surreal is the word, but trying to wrap my head around it in some ways, still feels like he’s an amateur, right? I did get to watch him play his final round on Sunday up here. It was just down the road,” she said.
“It’s great. I’m so proud of him for taking that next step. He’s very lucky through Golf Canada and Derek Ingram to get exemptions into three PGA Tour Canada events and kick off his year the right way,” added James.
Marchand is currently 17th on the Symetra Tour money list, with James in 47th spot. At the end of the season, the top 10 graduate to the LPGA Tour and the player in the best position right now is Anne-Catherine Tanguay of Quebec City, who is in eighth place after starting the season with top-10 finishes in five of her first six events.
“I’ve had a really great time this year. Just elected to play on Symetra Tour, so in a way, I tried to build some confidence in my game. I’m really excited to be playing LPGA this week. It’s so nice to be here,” said Tanguay, who recently got engaged.
Calgary’s Jennifer Ha is into her rookie year on the LPGA Tour, one in which she has made just one cut, but she’s also treating it as a learning experience.
“It’s my first year on tour, so I’ve been taking it all in. I’ve been learning lots from Alena. She’s been great, mentoring me on the golf course, playing practice rounds together. They’ve been awesome,” said Ha.