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Aug 22

Canadian Open and a Wake for Solheim

After the Solheim Ready for the Canadian Open

Honestly, I did my very best to fully embrace the Canadian Open this week. It’s one of my favorite stops along the LPGA tour, and has proven to be particularly interesting in the last year or so. I always look forward to it, but this week, I couldn’t get my entire mind and spirit to move on from the Solheim carnage of last week.

So, I made a deal with myself. Part of me will move on (as much as I can muster) while the rest stays behind for just one more hour picking through the wreckage of what might become known as the Great Colorado Massacre of ’13.
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Charley Hull’s performance, particularly against a normally tough Paula Creamer, was stunning enough, and I love great new players, regardless of what country they come from. However, I then realized that even Hull wasn’t the biggest deal of the week. It was Caroline Hedwall.

hedwall 1Hedwall is barely into pushing her mid-twenties, which is still young enough for me to watch for an older player to get the crown this week. That aside, though, facts are facts. Caroline Hedwall did an unthinkable for a Solheim week, historically speaking. She won everything, literally everything. Five and zip, whether she played by herself or with fellow Vikings.

I read up on Hedwall, and could only be ashamed to have put her in any sort of “no-name” category. What threw me was that several of her victories have come in exotic, out-of-the-way places. Plus, she comes from the town of Loddekopinge (Sweden-minus the umlauts). What sort of serious golfer comes from a town that can’t be pronounced correctly by anyone west of the Atlantic Ocean?
Golf Simplified logoThen I saw her photograph. Tell me truthfully – doesn’t she look like the sort of Viking that would land a dragon boat on your shores and trample your best golfers? Look at the second one, and you can see her actually doing it!

It was no fluke, certainly. Hedwall won a European team championship in ’08 and ’10, was an individual NCAA champion out of Oklahoma State, and NGCA Player of the Year, a ’10 Golfstat winner, twice a first-team All-American, the Big 12 Player of the Year for two years, and the captain’s pick for the Solheim in ’11 and ’13. In the latter year, the only American who even came close to stopping her was Michelle Wie, who put up an excellent fight, only to lose 1 down (BRAVA Michelle, for that effort!)

All right, then. Now I know why it was so possible for Europe to put on a show like that. So, I am now all ears and eyes for the Canadian Open, with just a hint of anti-youth left, and looking forward to a good veteran display of stellar golf (just kidding – I’m a big fan of the super-kids).
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And what do I find as the first round winds down at Royal Mayfair in Edmonton?  Angela Stanford shares the lead at 5 under, and I can’t help but wonder where it all was last week, even more so with Paula Creamer hanging in at minus 4. And who shares the lead with Stanford? Lydia Ko, former champion, that’s who. Wasn’t she about…three when she won this? So much for my youth thing. But, it gets even more serious.

hedwall 2Apparently, the heavy hitters of the European Solheim Team didn’t even take a plane back home to celebrate. They moved on to Canada to take out their wrath on North Americans in general, not to mention players from Asia, South America and everywhere else. Charley Hull, seventeen-year old Charley Hull, has quietly wormed her way into contention at 1 under. I’ve got to hand it to her, she’s good, and only bound to get better.

And then, at two under, three back, is guess who? Caroline Hedwall, who apparently hasn’t emptied her bag of great golf, and needed another week to become a mortal again. Clearly, they’re not going to go home until they’ve conquered the entire western hemisphere.

As for round #2, who knows? Still, I get the sense that they’re coming at us again, and someone had better step up and stop them, or the pro shops will start serving mutton and rarebit with lingonberry syrup

 

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.