Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb, the two most dominant players on the LPGA tour, have done everything except win a major championship this year. Their last chance starts today at the du Maurier Classic in Oakville, Ontario.
But with Nancy Lopez the only player missing from among the top 37 on the money list, challengers will be plentiful. And perhaps none is more formidable than Laura Davis, who won this tournament last year in Edmonton.
Davies played the Jack Nicklaus-designed Glen Abbey Golf Club - home of the Canadian Open - several years ago and remembers it as a “long, tough course.”
She didn’t mention that she reached the 500-yard 18th hole with a driver and a 3-iron.
Glen Abbey should suit her perfectly. The powerful Davies has proven she can handle any course under any conditions, such as she did last year in Edmonton when she shot a final-round 66 in windy conditions to beat Lopez.
It was the only round in the 60s that day.
Webb, second on the money list to Sorenstam this year, described the Abbey course as “great and in good condition.”
Els gets scare in air
Steve Elkington sure put a scare into Ernie Els on the final four holes at Blackwolf Run.
But that was nothing compared to the scare Els got when he arrived to play in the international leg of the Andersen Consulting World Championship of Golf in Kohler, Wis.
Els, who beat Elkington 2-up on Tuesday to win the match-play tourney, said his small plane ran into some difficulties on its approach into Sheboygan County Airport on Sunday afternoon.
“We were coming down, another plane was approaching us and we had to go up quite rapidly,” the two-time U.S. Open winner said.
Then, the South African’s plane had to circle a second time because on its next approach, another plane was preparing to take off.
“It was scary,” Els said.
Els, the third-ranked player in the world, was able to put the frightening flight behind him to take the eight-player section.
Kite keeps eye on Ryder contenders
With just three tournaments remaining before the U.S. Ryder Cup team is selected, team captain Tom Kite is both the most interested observer and the least.
“I fought it off for a while, but when I get on a golf course I find myself watching what other players are doing, especially if I’m playing with someone who’s in contention for the team,” Kite said Wednesday prior to the start of the Sprint International.
“The Ryder Cup is a big distraction. It’s been harder as we’ve gotten closer.”
On the other hand, Kite refuses to be unduly influenced by media speculation on the makeup of the team.
“To be honest,” he said, “I’m really trying to do my best to not read any articles on the Ryder Cup now.
“I’ve got a short list (of candidates), but I’m not going to get into a situation of speculating on who my two (captain’s) picks will be. What happens in the next three weeks is anybody’s guess.”
The top 10 point-getters qualify for the 12-man team, with each team captain making two additional choices. Tiger Woods, Tom Lehman, Justin Leonard and Jim Furyk are locks for the team as the top four qualifiers, but Phil Mickelson, at No. 9, and Davis Love III, at No. 10, are on the bubble.
“Earlier this year, they were third and fourth. I’m anxious to see what they do the next three weeks,” said Kite.
Both are entered in this tournament. The Buick Open next week and the PGA Championship will conclude the scoring for the Ryder Cup. The Americans will face a European team at Valderrama Golf Club in Cadiz, Spain, on Sept. 26-28.
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