Lorie Kane concedes that it’s the Brooke Henderson show at one of her home clubs so close to her home town of Smiths Falls as the CP Women’s Open gears up this week at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club.
Yet, at age 52, Kane believes she can still put on a performance that made her a four-time winner on the LPGA Tour and earned her membership in the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.
“I still feel that I can win and I can continue to improve. As we all know, I wasn’t 19 or 18 or 14 or 15, I was 29 when I turned pro, so I would say it again, if you minus 10 from my current age, then I should be still at the peak of my game and I feel like I am, said Kane.
“I just haven’t had the opportunity to play as much as I would like to, and when I’ve had chances, I haven’t taken advantage of those chances,” she said.
Indeed, she hasn’t had many starts on tour, just two as a matter of fact, and she missed the cut at both the Marathon Classic and Canada’s other LPGA event this year, the Manulife LPGA Classic in Cambridge, Ont.
On the Symetra Tour, the main development circuit for the LPGA Tour, she’s also missed the cut in both events she’s played in 2017.
“So to be here and moving past here, I’m going to play down in New Zealand. I was very fortunate that Lydia (Ko) put in a nice word for me and got me an invitation, which speaks volumes for Lydia. I appreciate that, so anytime I can play, I think I’m here to hopefully contend,” said Kane.
“We need a Canadian to get on that board. I know we’ve put all our eggs probably in Brooke’s basket, but at the same time, I’m going to go out and do the best I can. I train harder, I practice longer and the only thing I’m missing are some tournaments,” she added.
Fueling her belief that she can still contend is a focus on fitness first initiated when she had hip injuries and was given the choice of going under the knife or getting into better shape.
She chose the latter and over the years, she’s been supported in her quest by renowned instructor Sean Foley, her longtime caddie/coach Danny Sharp, performance coach Dr. Craig Davies and the people with which he works.
“I can’t give them enough credit for pushing me past some comfort zones and giving me the strength to just keep going,” said Kane.
“I still could be stronger, but it’s difficult, I find, to try to manage both and play, so the off-season is important,” she added.
Even if she is focused on the present, Kane will remember a glorious past this week at the Hunt Club, where another Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member, three-time LPGA Tour winner Dawn Coe-Jones is being fondly remembered.
Coe-Jones died last fall after a battle with sarcoma, a type of cancer. Players will be wearing a yellow ribbon with the initials “DCJ.”
“I don’t want anybody to ever forget her. I leaned on Dawn probably more than Dawn realized and looked to Dawn for a kick in the butt when I needed to,” said Kane.
“I felt a lot of pressure when I first started playing Canadian Opens, the Classics, what have you, and I didn’t know how to funnel the excitement of being in Canada and playing and also balance it to allow myself to play well, but she did that,” said Kane.
“She gave me that encouragement and told me to play as a proud Canadian and to use the fans as a help rather than to feel it a hindrance,” she said.
As a successful, experienced veteran herself, Kane can now be a role model for younger Canadians about to break through such as Brittany Marchand, Augusta James, Anne-Catherine Tanguay, just to name a few.
“I think it goes without saying that I think the program is working. I’m going to push the needle to say that it can be better because I think that’s the only way we get better is to continue to raise the bar as high as we possibly can,” said Kane.
“We’ve got a lot of young girls going to college to play golf on the amateur side which I think is important to them. The exception would be Brooke, but Brooke also benefited greatly from Team Canada and having the structure that that entailed. Tristan (coach Mullally) is doing a wonderful job in keeping that part of the game going,” she added.
“They’re regimented. They know their practice schedule. They’re having good, quality practice,” she said.
The results are speaking for themselves, says Kane.
“Last year playing at the Canadian Open in Calgary, I played the first two rounds with Brittany Marchand and Brittany’s going to be somebody that you all need to watch. I know she just came off a win on the Symetra Tour, and the PGA of Canada win as well. She won a playoff against Augusta. I was playing there,” she said.
“So it’s a lot of excitement in women’s golf and golf in general in Canada. I really think that we’re in a good place, said Kane.