CN Canadian Women’s Open continues to grow

PRIDDIS — In just four years, CN has taken the Canadian Women’s Open from the edge of extinction to the top echelon of the LPGA Tour.

Norway's Suzann Pettersen kisses the LPGA Canadian Open trophy after winning the tournament with a -15 score at Priddis Greens

PRIDDIS — In just four years, CN has taken the Canadian Women’s Open from the edge of extinction to the top echelon of the LPGA Tour.

There was nothing but positive vibes emanating from last week’s event at Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club. The tournament featured the top-75 players on the LPGA’s money list, received tremendous fan support, helped raise an amazing $1.6 million for the Alberta Children’s Hospital and was surrounded by the kind of buzz that accompanies only a select few events each season.

None of it would be possible without the stewardship of CN, a company that has made a significant investment in the LPGA since becoming a title sponsor late in 2005.

The biggest question now is what can the tour offer it back in return?

CN’s sponsorship agreement runs out after next year’s event at Winnipeg’s St. Charles Country Club and the announcement of an extension was basically the only thing missing from a tremendous week in suburban Calgary. The company has made it clear that it wants the tournament to regain the major championship status it once held.

“All we can do is put on the best show we can,” said Mark Wallace, CN’s vice-president of public affairs. “We can put up the prize money, we can stage the event, we can do all the right things. Those are the things that are in our control — the decisions from the LPGA are out of our control.

“The chips will fall where they may.”

The tour is currently in a state of flux because it doesn’t have enough companies that are as committed as CN. Acting commissioner Marty Evans is plenty busy trying to secure a full schedule of events for next season and beyond — no easy task in a struggling economy.

Even though the commissioner was thrilled with everything she saw at Priddis Greens, she didn’t leave the impression that CN’s wish to become a major was very close to becoming a reality.

“(The players) have spoken pretty strongly about four majors,” said Evans. “That’s a very, very strong sense. But I think there are other opportunities beyond that. I think the Canadian tournament is part of the top tournaments around the world. . .

“I think you have to look ahead and you put the majors over there and then you think what are the possibilities with these other great globally-based tournaments?”

One idea that has been floated is establishing another tier of tournaments below the majors, similar to the PGA Tour’s world golf championship events. That kind of structure would provide a natural fit for the CN Canadian Women’s Open.

While there is nothing to suggest that CN might walk away from its title sponsorship after next year, firming up an extension soon is clearly a priority for the company, the tour and the Royal Canadian Golf Association.

After all, no one from any those three organizations is eager to mess with the success of the event.

The tour is so happy with the reception its received in Canada recently that Evans raised the possibility of bringing a second event here — a notion that would have sounded crazy five years ago.

“If we could find a sponsor who would sponsor a tournament in Canada … I would love to talk with them,” said Evans, who took over from Carolyn Bivens on July 13. “We have a full-court press on right now to not only sign the tournaments that are up for renewal — and even some that everybody thought were not going to be renewed — but we’re very, very interested in new opportunities.

“I think a second opportunity in Canada would be fabulous”.

Just Posted

More than $25k raised for Red Deer firefighter who is recovering in hospital

‘I think the support he’s getting is because of the person he is’

Lacombe backs Blackfalds stormwater plan

Stormwater management plan will open up more land for development in Blackfalds

Two men facing charges in alleged abduction

RCMP issued alert for woman on Wednesday morning who was found safe later that day

Red Deer RCMP seek public assistance to identify suspect in indecent acts

Red Deer RCMP are looking for a man believed to be responsible… Continue reading

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Edmonton girl guide sells out of cookies in front of cannabis store on first day

EDMONTON — She’s being called one smart cookie. As people lined up… Continue reading

New vacuum needed: Calgary family adopts three bonded St. Bernard buddies

EDMONTON — Three adult St. Bernards who couldn’t be separated because they’re… Continue reading

Film with Fan Bingbing, Bruce Willis cancelled after tax case

BEIJING — The director of “Air Strike,” featuring Chinese actress Fan Bingbing,… Continue reading

Michael Buble shuts down rumours of retirement from music

LOS ANGELES — Michael Buble is shutting down rumours that he’s going… Continue reading

After Canada legalizes pot, industry eyes rest of the world

MONTREAL — Cam Battley is a top executive at one of Canada’s… Continue reading

Facebook’s election ‘war room’ takes aim at fake information

MENLO PARK, Calif. — In an otherwise innocuous part of Facebook’s expansive… Continue reading

Military to overhaul morale-boosting trips after review finds serious problems

OTTAWA — Canada’s top general is overhauling military morale-boosting tours after an… Continue reading

Police hand out a few hefty fines for allegedly violating Cannabis Act

The celebratory mood that marked the legalization of recreational cannabis lost a… Continue reading

Most Read