Lorie Kane: LPGA Bridesmaid
Second sucks, says Tiger Woods, who at 24 has already won 17
times on the PGA Tour. But for Lorie Kane, 35, coming in second
will have to do. She has been runner-up nine times in her five
years on the LPGA tour but has never won. If Kane finishes
second once more before she wins, she will tie Laura Baugh for
most seconds without a victory. (The longest such streak on the
men's Tour belongs to Tommy Aaron and David Frost, who had been
runner-up eight times before winning.)
Although no one has started calling her Avis, Kane was referred
to as the LOVABLE LOSER in a headline in The Toronto Star
earlier this year. That jab did not remove the easy smile that
has made the native of Prince Edward Island, Canada, a favorite
among her peers, not that it has been easy coping with
near-success. "People are very supportive, but when I keep
hearing, 'This is your week,' or 'It's your turn,' it gets a
little nerve-racking," says Kane, whose biggest win came in the
1991 Mexican Amateur.
Sports psychologist Bob Rotella, who counseled Pat Bradley,
David Duval and Nick Price when they were struggling to break
through, says what Kane is experiencing is par for the course.
"That happens to every athlete who doesn't win right away," he
says. "Everybody has something to say, and that can get into
your head. You have to have a mind of your own."
Rather than avoid the issue, Kane deals with it openly. She
admits that last year, as playing captain of the LPGA team that
took on Japanese pros in October's Nichirei International, she
worried that she would somehow pass on her propensity for coming
in second to her teammates. "I caught myself and realized what I
was carrying around inside," she says. "That's when I said,
'This has got to stop.' You can't be afraid to talk about it. If
you are, there's a problem."
Kane, who finished 16th at last week's Welch's/Circle K
Championship in Tucson, seven shots behind winner Annika
Sorenstam, has averaged a sterling 68.33 in the final rounds of
the tournaments in which she has finished second. She has also
been luckless in four playoffs, including the one at the '99 JAL
Big Apple Classic, in which Sherri Steinhauer stayed alive with
a long putt and then won with a 35-foot bomb for birdie on the
fifth extra hole.
Kane may be pressing. The first 11 times she began the final
round within five strokes of the lead, she broke 70 on six
occasions. In the 23 subsequent times she has only three rounds
The book on Kane is that she has a high-risk style of course
management. JoAnne Carner has counseled Kane on reducing her
bogeys by understanding the percentages as well as improving her
skills around the greens. Says Kane, "Amy Alcott told me that
when I win, I'll look back and realize it was the par saves and
not the birdies that were the key."
Even Kane's critics believe she will someday become a regular
winner. Unlike Baugh, who lacks the length to contend
consistently, Kane is a powerful player with one of the best
swings on tour. She has lowered her scoring average every
season, and her 70.62 last year was the LPGA's fifth-best. "If I
keep bringing that down," Kane says, "winning will take care of
Kane's challenge is to remain patient. Her frequent practice
partner, Nancy Lopez, tells Kane, "Keep going forward. Don't
rush. You've got a lot of wins in that heart of yours." Lopez
also points out that along with her 48 victories are 50 seconds.
"What I like about Lorie is that she keeps putting herself in
position to win," says Rotella. "The grief she gets from coming
close is not causing her to pull back. She's getting to know how
her insides work very well. When she does win, she'll understand
better than other players how to do it again." Rotella says
that's what happened to Duval, who followed seven second-place
finishes with three victories in a row.
What makes Kane's case different is her age. She didn't join the
LPGA until she was 31 and now is feeling a sense of urgency.
That was evident at last month's Australian Ladies Masters. Kane
shared the 54-hole lead but couldn't make a birdie over the last
17 holes. When, on 18, she learned that Karrie Webb had made a
birdie ahead of her to take the lead, Kane cursed loudly enough
to quiet the gallery.
That kind of response was reminiscent of Tom Watson, who also
had difficulty winning early in his career. When asked what
turned him around, he said, "I decided that I hated to lose." In
other words, second sucks.
Hall of (Ho-Hum) Fame
SORENSTAM'S IN, IN FOUR YEARS
After Annika Sorenstam rolled in a four-foot birdie putt to beat
Pat Hurst on the second hole of a playoff at the Welch's/Circle
K Championship in Tucson, there were no tears, no champagne, no
jumping for joy--even though Sorenstam had just earned enough
points to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame. The response was
muted because, despite Sorenstam's 19 wins, three Vare Trophies
(for scoring average) and three player of the year awards, she
has not been an LPGA member for the required 10 years and
therefore will have to wait until 2004 to be inducted. "I could
miss every cut from here on and people might forget," she said,
"so today is anticlimactic."
After the LPGA watered down the entrance requirements last year,
Sorenstam, 29, moved close to qualifying. Karrie Webb, who is
going for her fourth straight win this week, also benefited from
the relaxed criteria. She is only four points shy of the Hall,
and she's four years younger than Sorenstam. "Karrie is probably
going to qualify this year, too," said Sorenstam. "The hardest
part about getting into the Hall of Fame for us will be the
Sorenstam, who lost in a playoff to Webb two weeks ago, joked
that she might take a few years off, then, turning serious, said
her goal is to make the Hall under the old criteria: 30 wins.
"Just because I have enough points doesn't mean I am going to
slow down," she said. "Thirty wins is totally possible."
When Brian Gay's lip-hanger on the 71st hole at the Honda finally
fell, everyone with an NBC mike rushed to score it as a birdie.
Instead of a long count by Gary Koch and flimflam by Johnny
Miller, the moment cried out for unflinching analysis by the
alleged expert, Roger Maltbie. Remember: If you're going to
broadcast this game, you've got to know the rules.
What do these players have in common?
They were the only golfers named on at least 50% of the ballots
in voting for entry into the World Golf Hall of Fame, but none
got the needed 75%. Norman was named on 70.1%, Stewart on 64.3%
and Crenshaw on 50.9%.
Who does the best job of televising golf?
Golf Channel 12%
--Based on 1,785 responses to our informal survey Next question:
Do you agree with the appeals court decision allowing Casey
Martin to keep riding a cart? Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
SYNONYMS for a TANTRUM
Bat s---, chili running hot, China Syndrome, full Tommy Bolt (or
Ky Laffoon), le rump rouge, Mount St. Helens, scanners, tierra
del fuego, throwing a Cookie, tuning fork, volcano, whirlybird
With three straight wins, Karrie Webb is still two shy of Nancy
Lopez's LPGA record set in 1978, but Webb's stats during her run
are in some cases better than Lopez's.
Scoring Average 69.88 69.27
Subpar Rounds 12 of 17 10 of 11
Avg. Victory Margin 2.8 1.7
Earnings $73,500 $345,000
Ian Nelson, Canyon Lake, Calif.
Ian, 17, has won three of the four International Junior Golf
Tour events he has entered this year, the Kiawah Island (S.C.)
Championship, the Cactus Shootout and last week's California
Baja Championship--all in playoffs. He has a 73.9 stroke average
and leads the tour's merit standings by 1,400 points, with 6,200.
Angela Stanford, Saginaw, Texas
Stanford, a senior at Texas Christian, won her third individual
title of the season and the eighth of her career--both school
records--while leading the Horned Frogs to victory in the
Midwest Classic in Dallas. Stanford, Texas Christian's 1998-99
Athlete of the Year, shot a 10-over 226 to beat Emily Gilley of
Northwestern by a stroke.
Frank Dobbs, Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Dobbs, 38, an assistant pro at Club Med in Port St. Lucie, won
the PGA Match Play at PGA Golf Club with a 3-and-2 victory over
Mark Brown, the head pro at Tam O'Shanter in Brookville, N.Y.
Dobbs birdied five of the 16 holes in the match. In 1997 Dobbs
won the PGA Stroke Play title and was South Florida PGA Section
player of the year.
Submit Faces candidates to golfplus.cnnsi.com/faces.