It would be a minor miracle were she to win the CN Canadian Women's Open this week, but Lorie Kane is in a much better place with her game considering some of the struggles she has endured the past few seasons.
Despite no high finishes on the LPGA Tour, the 46-year-old Charlottetown native has missed just a single cut. Plus she blitzed the field a couple weeks ago in winning a one-day, over-45 Legends Tour event in Jackson, Mich.
Kane's recent play is in contrast to a low point reached two years ago, when she missed nine of 10 cuts to close out the season and was reduced to near tears in a tournament-ending interview at Priddis Greens in Calgary. That trainwreck of a season — just four of 17 cuts made and less than $20,000 US in earnings — forced the face of Canadian women's golf to cash in a career money exemption just to remain on tour full-time.
Oh, Oh Canada
Among the 18 Canadians in the field, four LPGA Tour regulars and Isabelle Beisiegel (sponsor exemption) Isabelle Beisiegel are seeking a breakthrough in what has been, for the most part, an across-the-board struggle in 2011:
Isabelle Beisiegel: Sainte Hilaire, Que., native is the first female to earn a card on a men's tour, meriting non-exempt status on the Canadian Tour. But she has fared poorly since being an LPGA Q-school co-medallist and being diagnosed with Graves disease.
Lisa Meldrum: Showed good form late last year, but the Montrealer has failed to build on it this year.
Samantha Richdale: Tour sophomore from Kelowna, B.C., who started strong (T19) this season, but has struggled since.
Jessica Shepley: Oakville, Ont., native has won at every level below the LPGA, but cannot seem to get a foothold on the big circuit.
Stephanie Sherlock: Barrie, Ont., rookie has showed well at times in her first season, with almost $40,000 in the bank already.
About to turn 45 at the time, it looked as though the end was near.
Baby steps back were made last year, highlighted by a solid T11 showing at St. Charles in Winnipeg. Kane nailed a long-bomb putt on the 36th hole to make the cut and if not for a couple of bad holes — perhaps pushing too hard for a fairy tale ending — her finish could have been much more lucrative than the $38,707 US she picked up.
'It's been in me'
There is the cynic's view that, at her age, she's playing out the string, but given the massive contribution she has made to the women's game in Canada, Kane deserves a mulligan. Besides, the flashes of form are still there — and you never know what can happen, especially given her improvements in fitness and her work in recent months with Canadian swing coach Sean Foley.
Even better than the tournament-record, seven-under par 65 she shot to win the Legends event, Kane's opening-round 69 in the Women's British Open at fabled Carnoustie was another indication the spark is still there. (Kane eventually tied for 43rd).
"It's been in me," Kane told the Jackson Citizen Patroit after winning the Legends event.
"I just haven't been able to get it out of me. I've had a lot of positive things happen in the last month, especially at the British Open."
'Now I embrace it'
Kane is now almost 11 years removed from her last tournament win, one that capped a four-title run in a little more than a year that made her one of the best players in the world for a prolonged stretch at the turn of the millennium.
While her skills have understandably declined, the affection for her within the Canadian golf community remains sky high. And the feeling is mutual, to be sure.
"Dawn Coe-Jones that once said to me, 'Coming home and playing Canada is like having an extra club in your bag, so embrace it,'" Kane told reporters upon her arrival at Hillsdale for the Canadian Women's Open.
"For a while, I didn't embrace it. I was very nervous to come home and play because the expectations, not only for myself, but for what other people want for us.
"Of course, we want a Canadian to win and I didn't handle that burden very well. Now I embrace it."