Few Calgarians outside the proper circles seemed to know or care, but last weekend our city played host to an important international sporting event, with representatives from a dozen countries.
From July 26Aug. 1, the Du Maurier Classic-one of four major tournaments on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour-was played out at Priddis Greens Golf Course, southwest of Calgary. The Du Maurier Classic is the only major LPGA tournament played outside the United States. Each year, a different Canadian city hosts the event.
The event was won by Australia's Karrie Webb, a confident 24-year-old already recognized as one of the tour's best, even though this marks only her fourth season
in the LPGA. Webb came on strong over the last two days of the tournament, shooting six under par each day. As the last 18 holes wound down, everyone's attention turned to the battle between Webb andEngland's Laura Davies. Davies began the day with a four-stroke lead over Webb, but bogeyed the 17th hole and was unable to recover,
giving Webb a one-stroke victory.
"Over the last six holes, I played like I was the best," said Webb.
Webb noted she was fortunate enough to play alongside Juli Inkster. Earlier this year, Inkster became only the second LPGA golfer ever to complete a career grand slam, having won each of the four major tournaments.
"It was great playing with Juli," enthused Webb. "She was a lot of fun to walk down the fairways with. I think she was trying to settle me down. While we were walking down the fairway on the 16th hole, she asked if I had seen any movies lately."
Golfers who may have enticed Calgarians to head out to Priddis in force had mixed results. As far as international golfers went, Davies (second place) and Inkster (third) were big draws, as were young Korean star Se Ri Pak (14th) and American veteran Beth Daniel (15th), but the golfers that many wanted to see were those playing on home turf. The closest thing to a Calgarian in the field was A.J. Eathorne. Eathorne, born in Calgary but raised in Penticton, had to withdraw from competition on the second day because of back problems. The only other Alberta-born golfer was Barrhead's Jessica Luciuk, who was eliminated after the second round.
The most successful Canadians, predictably, were Charlottetown's Lorie Kane and Lake Cowichan, British Columbia's Dawn Coe-Jones, both of whom finished in the top 10. Coe-Jones topped the Canadian field, finishing in fourth place. Fourth was something of a disappointment, considering Coe-Jones had been tied with Inkster for first after two rounds and set a course record with a seven-under 65 in the second round. In spite of the disappointing finish, Coe-Jones tried to think of the Du Maurier Classic as a positive experience.
"I'll take a lot of good memories away from here," she said.
Coe-Jones remained optimistic about the rest of the season after looking back on her performance over most of the holes at the Classic.
"When I think about where I've come from this year, that is good," she noted. "It didn't happen today, but maybe next time. This was only my second top-10 all year. I'm looking forward to next week."
Coe-Jones had good things to say about the Australian who beat her on her own ground.
"[Webb] is spectacular," announced Coe-Jones. "To go 12-under on the weekend is awesome. She's a special talent, and we're lucky to have her on tour."
The personable Kane was doubtlessly the fan favorite. She had a rather inconsistent tournament, but a two-under final round helped her move into a three-way tie for sixth place in the end. Other Canadians to make the cut were Nancy Harvey (46th), Chris Greatrex (60th), Gail Graham (65th) and Tina Tombs (72nd).
Among the top eight finishers were two Canadians (Coe-Jones and Kane), one Australian (Webb) and one golfer each from England (Davies) and Scotland (Catriona Matthew, fifth), prompting Webb to partially credit the host nation's association with the British Empire as having something to do with her victory.
"I think it was a Commonwealth thing," she said.