With some of the world's best golfers expected to draw tens of thousands of people to this year's CP Women's Open in Ottawa, tournament organizers are confident they'll be able to handle the flood of fans, while crossing their fingers for dry weather.
Practice and final qualifying rounds got underway Monday at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, with tournament play set to begin Thursday featuring golf stars from 28 countries — including local phenom Brooke Henderson from nearby Smiths Falls, Ont.
"We've got all the makings to be a very, very successful tournament," said Bill Paul, chief championships officer for Golf Canada.
"We think there's going to be a great walk-up crowd here. And we've already exceeded our expectations in ticket sales to date."
'The sky's the limit'
The last time Ottawa hosted the tournament in 2008, more than 68,000 fans showed up, breaking an attendance record. Henderson is expected to be a big draw this time around, especially if she's in the hunt for the lead going into Saturday and Sunday.
"If Brooke is in the leaderboard on that weekend, the sky's the limit," said tournament co-chair Lori White.
"It means a very busy two days. We have a backup plan prepared for both security and marshalling in order to accommodate the large crowds. We would like everybody to come out and cheer all the Canadians on, but I know Brooke will be a special favourite."
More than 1,200 volunteers will help execute that backup plan to deal with potentially huge crowds, and the response to the call for volunteers was so great, organizers had to close it six weeks ago, according to White.
It's been a soggy summer throughout eastern Ontario, but after rainfall that's broken records in some places, the course is ready for this week's action, according to organizers.
Course in 'fabulous shape'
"The great thing about all the rain that we've had — the place is pretty green. It's actually in fabulous shape," said Paul.
"The last few weeks have been a reprieve, fortunately, and we haven't had as much [rain]," said White. "And the forecast right now looks really good, so we're hoping that everything will run smoothly."
As for Henderson, she's excited to tee up in front of local fans.
"It's going to be an incredible week. One that I'll never forget. So hopefully I can go out and make some birdies early and get the fans behind me," she said Friday at a fan meet-and-greet in an Ottawa golf shop.
"We would love to see a Canadian win this event. It's been a long time," said White.