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LPGA Tour returns to Ko-quitlam - Vancouver Golf Club set to play host to Canadian Pacific Women’s Open

Posted on 1st August, 2015 / Source: Brad Ziemer, Guest Contributor

One of the best sports stories of 2012 happened not too far from my Coquitlam backyard. Here’s a hint: It involved a shy, bespectacled 15-year-old from New Zealand.

Well, Lydia Ko is all grown up now -- she’s all of 18 -- and this month returns to Vancouver Golf Club, where she made golf history three years ago. At the age of 15 years, four months and two days, Ko became the youngest player to win a LPGA Tour event. She did it in grand style before a huge gallery that rooted her on every step of the way. Ko beat a field that included almost all of the top female players in the world. She won the tournament by three shots, but as an amateur had to pass on the winner’s cheque of $300,000. That went to runner-up Inbee Park of South Korea. Now Ko & Company are back. What was then the CN Canadian Women’s Open is now called the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open. Different railroad, same tournament.

And tournament organizers can only dream of another week like that one in 2012. Vancouver Golf Club, a private Coquitlam layout that happens to be B.C’s second oldest golf course, was in fantastic shape and the weather was glorious. But it was Ko’s performance that made the week something special.

Ko has won several times since then and turned pro nearly two years ago. She gained the world No. 1 ranking, but has since fallen all the way to . . .No. 2. In a phone interview with Ko this past spring, she sounded excited about returning to Vancouver Golf Club. “It was a special week,” she said. “The fans there were so good to me. I remember them yelling things like ‘Go Kiwi’ to me on the back nine on Sunday. I have so many good memories of that week.” Ko will be one of the favourites at the $2.25-million US tournament, which goes Aug. 20-23. But the crowd favourite just might be another teenager, this one a Canadian.

Brooke Henderson, a talented 17-year-old from Smith Falls, Ont., turned pro last December and has already risen to No. 32 in the world rankings. Heading into this month’s Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry in Scotland, Henderson already had two fifth-place finishes in majors this year.
Don’t be surprised to see her in contention at Vancouver Golf Club, where she missed the cut??? as a 14-year-old three years ago.

And I wouldn’t be surprised to see tournament organizers put Henderson in the same group as Ko in the tournament’s first two rounds. That would certainly create a nice buzz for the tournament. One of the great things about this event is that it always draws a stellar field. Three years ago, 48 of the top 50 players on the LPGA Tour money list were in the field. This year will be no different.

The emergence of young players like Ko, Henderson, American Lexi Thompson and others has led to a renaissance of sorts for women’s golf. After a few years of struggles, the LPGA Tour is certainly on the rise. And don’t be surprised if several other young Canadians join Henderson, who next year will be a full-time LPGA Tour regular. The Symetra Tour is the official developmental tour of the LPGA Tour and its leaderboards these days are frequently filled with Canadian names, including the likes of Langley’s Sue Kim, Samantha Richdale of Kelowna and Jessica Wallace of Langley. It has been 14 years since Lorie Kane became the last Canadian to win on the LPGA Tour. That will change soon. Who knows, maybe even later this month at Vancouver Golf Club.

That’s a story that would rival the one Lydia Ko authored back in 2012. (editor's note: click here to save on Admission and Clubhouse passes!)

Brad ZiemerArticle by Guest Contributor Brad Ziemer, as featured in the August 2015 edition of the GolfBC eNews. Brad Ziemer covers the B.C. golf scene for the Vancouver Sun. He received Golf Canada’s Distinguished Service Award in 2013 and was also named the PGA of British Columbia’s Patron of the Year in 2013...

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