SPORTS

Lorie Kane hopes new swing, regime leads to better results

08/22/2012 08:16 EDT | Updated 10/22/2012 05:12 EDT
In the wake of Augusta National finally inviting former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore as its first female members this week, Canadian golfer Lorie Kane could not help but chuckle at her first brush with the exclusive club.

Like most who have followed this decade-long saga that pressured the home of the Masters tournament to allow women to don a green jacket, the Charlottetown golfer felt Augusta National’s announcement was overdue.

But long before activist Martha Burk of the National Council of Women's Organizations protested Augusta to include women among its members in 2002, Kane had a funny and favourable experience driving down Magnolia Lane in 1997.

"We had just played Myrtle Beach, and we were driving to Atlanta to play," said Kane, who will tee up at the CN Canadian Women’s Open at the Vancouver Golf Club in the first round on Thursday. "I had had a good week in Myrtle Beach [tied for 2nd].

"Danny Sharp was my caddy and we travelled together. He said, 'We're going to go to Augusta.'

"I said, 'We can't go to Augusta. You have to know somebody to get in the gate.'

"He said, ‘Nope, we're going to drive up to the gate, you're going to tell them who you are and we'll take it from there.'

"I said, 'Like they're going to know who I am.'

"Well, we drove up to the gate, talked to the security guard. The security guard called down to the golf shop. Mr. [Dave] Spencer is the director of golf. He answered the phone and said, 'Oh, hi, Lorie. Nice to chat with you. I see you had a good week last week.'

"I was just floored that he even knew who I was.

"So he invited us down to see the golf shop. I'm sitting in my Ford Explorer and I look to realize I have jeans on. Danny was driving, so I jumped in the back seat of the truck and quickly changed out of my jeans into a respectable pair of golf shorts and called my Dad at the same time to say, 'Dad, I'm driving down Magnolia Lane to head to the golf shop to buy you a shirt from this golf course.'"

When she was in the pro shop talking to some of the Augusta National’s staff, an announcement was made that the president had arrived. She thought it was the club's president, but it was former U.S. President George H.W. Bush. He was there for a round of golf and to get in some fishing.

Kane returned to Augusta National in 2009 and saw a practice round before Angel Cabrera's victory. Three years later, the club has its first female members.

"I’ve always been a true believer that clubs have their rules," said Kane, who received the Order of Canada in December 2007. "It wasn't that we as women couldn't play the golf course, because we can play the golf course. That fact is they have seen the light that women are moving up in the business world and running great companies. Condoleezza Rice has done wonderful things for the United States and deserves to be a member of Augusta.

"It’s a start. Probably well overdue."

Kane is overdue for a strong showing on the LPGA Tour.

The 47-year-old golfer is seeking her 100th career top-10 finish. But the four-time LPGA Tour champ would rather return to the winner’s circle, even though she is more than 11 years removed from her last victory.

"Ninety-nine is not a bad number," she said. "[Wayne] Gretzky was 99 for a long time. He had a little bit of success. I don’t want the next one to just be a Top 10. My goal is to get into the winner’s circle. That’s what I’m striving for."

Thanks to a new fitness regime, technology and new swing technique as the result of work with her coach Sean Foley, Kane has been hitting the ball longer than ever. But she has yet to transform her length into better results.

Kane’s best finish over the past 24 months was a tie for 11th at the 2010 Canadian Women’s Open at St. Charles Country Club in Winnipeg. She has missed the cut in her past two outings this summer. Nevertheless, if there is a place to turn her game around, it’s Vancouver.

Even though British Columbia is at the other end of the country from her Prince Edward Island home, the Vancouver area has been like a second home to Kane. The reason is because of her relationship with the late Shaughnessy head pro Jack McLaughlin and his family.

In 1988, Kane travelled to across the country to compete in the Canadian Women’s Amateur at Shaughnessy. She finished fourth and forged a friendship with McLaughlin, who later coached her on the women’s national team that was based out of Vancouver. Even though, McLaughlin passed away in 1991, Kane has remained close with his wife Marilyn and son Ed. Kane’s parents also are named Marilyn and Jack.

"Any opportunity that we get to come home and play is huge," Kane said. "I definitely want to take advantage of the Canadian fans, the support I get from CN, to put the best game I can forward.

"Having said that, tomorrow is another day. Today was good. I felt great on the golf course. I'm going to tee it up tomorrow with Brittany Lang and Michelle Wie, which will be an exciting group to be with. I'm going to go out and play the best I can. It is really awesome to have the support that I get when I do come home.

"So everything is good."

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