Jutanugarn Leads Canadian at Priddis

Jutanugarn Leads Canadian Pacific Women’s Open by Three

If you live in either the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., or in western Canada anywhere near a forest, you have a different feel for late summer than almost everyone else. Californians probably aren’t noticing it yet, but up north, the hints are growing stronger that the season is changing. For some of us, that means the return of rain is on the way. For others, several feet of snow may only be a month or two down the road. However, while Nature is changing her mind slowly up in the province of Alberta, there’s a magical atmosphere ii the forest country. It smells wonderful and throws off a natural artistry, as deciduous trees begin to change in between the evergreens. The temperature is perfect  if you play golf at the right time of day. To give one the idea of the esteem given Nature in Alberta, we should note that Priddis is the 11th course in Canada certified by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System of Canada, which means that the deer, the trees, and everything else that either breathes or looks wonderful was here first, and you’d better take good care of it. This week, the LPGA is playing the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open at Priddis Golf & Country Cub in Calgary, Alberta, and Ariya Jutanugarn is taking care of things all right, especially business.

Yes, here she is again, after dropping out of the third round of the Rio Olympics. Apparently, it wa just a breather. Despite the fact that she is walking with a slight limp, and bears traces of medical tape on her left knee, she’s leading the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open by three shots..She did it with an opening 68 and a following 64. Along the way, she’s blown the course record part, and fashioned a -12 onslaught of the beautiful forest land housing the Priddis course. One of those only four shots back is Lydia Ko. The reason for that is that you just can’t have a women’s tournament in Canada without Lydia Ko. She’s won the Women’s Canadian Open three times already, most of them before she was allowed to drive. At 6 under and 6 back are two of Canada’s best, Maude-Aimee Leblanc and Alena Sharp. They don’t get quite the press hooplah of their colleague, Brooke Henderson, but they’ve done a good job of hanging with the leaders this year.
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Having lived in Letbridge, Alberta, and more importantly having crossed the Canadian Rockies to get there, I know what that northern magic is all about, and I know how it translates to golf courses carved out of the forest. Jutanugarn knows it, too, and in preparation for this week, left one of her favorite clubs out of the bag – her driver. I don’t think she wanted to, but what I learned through painful experience she learned through good counsel and natural wisdom. At Priddis, like most coniferous forest courses, the tree line isn’t staggered or gradual. It’s a wall, which means that you’re never sort of in or out of the rough. You’re either in or out – period. Conifers can be particularly nasty for sight lines and backswings if you’re out, and Jutanugarn could see right away that the narrow fairways meant big trouble for a disobedient “big stick.”
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Jutanugarn is having one of those years that even the best dream of. She has won four times on the tour already, making the Canadian Pacific potentially her fifth. Hailing from her native Thailand, a country she has put on the big map of golf in a short amount of time, I can only wonder at how she gets to see the world, by either winning or contending whereever she goes. The women who compete this week at Priddis find themselves in all manner of climates throughout the year, but this week, it’s in a setting close to my heart – a great city with a pristine and protected forest nearby, in the heart of the late Canadian summer.

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