DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Three months ago, golf was a game of frustration and self doubt for Lorie Kane, the most popular bridesmaid on the LPGA Tour.
These days, it's anything but that.
"Now, it's just a game of confidence," the congenial Canadian said Thursday after a 5-under 67 gave her a share of the lead with Meg Mallon in the Arch Wireless Championship.
"I can handle any situation I face on the golf course with a lot of confidence, rather than a little bit of panic," she said. "If I miss a green, it's not a big deal. I know that I can turn around and make birdies."
Such was the case on a warm, breezy day on the Legends Course at LPGA International. Kane made birdies after her only two bogeys and finished off a solid round with an 8-iron within 4 feet for her seventh birdie of the round.
"I'm happy with the way things have turned out," said Kane, who had nine second-place finishes before breaking through with three victories.
Mallon also had few complaints. She missed 11 greens on a course with narrow fairways that winds through pine trees and wetlands. But thanks to her trusty wedge, Mallon holed a couple of long chips for birdies and was tied for the lead.
"Obviously, it worked out really well," she said. "I hit it in the right places and didn't make any bad mistakes, which you can do on this course if you don't hit it well."
Karrie Webb and Juli Inkster can vouch for that.
Webb, who needs a victory to become the first player in LPGA history to crack the $2 million barrier, struggled with her short game and had a 40 after nine holes. She wound up with a 75, going 2 under over the final four holes to avoid her worst round of the year.
Inkster is four days away from her induction into the LPGA Hall of Fame, and this isn't how she wanted her week of celebration to begin. She got spooked by missing a couple of short putts early and wound up with a 78.
Sweden's Annika Sorenstam had a bogey-free 68 and was one off the lead, tied with Leta Lindley and Dottie Pepper.
"I can't wait for January to get here," said Pepper, who is finally free of back and wrist injuries that have plagued her throughout the season. "This week is a finality for a lot of people, but I'm just getting going again. I'm going to play hard."
Nineteen of the 30 players had par or better on a course being used in tournament play for the first time.
The Arch Championship was supposed to be in Las Vegas until the Desert Inn began to lose its staff and the LPGA decided to move the event to its headquarters. Instead of the wide-open Champions Course, which held the Titleholders for five years, it went across the road to the more treacherous Legends Course.
It was a nightmare for Webb, the most dominant player in women's golf who was a picture of frustration throughout most of a breezy, warm afternoon. Trying to cap off her sensational season in style, she was well off the mark with several short irons and looked uncomfortable around the greens.
Mallon played in the group ahead of Webb, and noticed the 25-year-old Australian bombing her drives some 25 yards past Sorenstam on the final two holes.
"The thing with Karrie is ... when she gets mad, she plays so good," Mallon said. "Tomorrow, I don't expect anything less than a 66 or a 65 from here."
Kane expects nothing less than a victory.
For nearly four years on the LPGA Tour, she carried a huge burden of playing well enough to win but watching someone else cash the first-place check. That finally changed when she was inspired by comments about winning from former New York Rangers star Mark Messier.
"It's all about attitude," she said.
For the Canadians, it's all about hockey.
Just last week, Mike Weir got fired up watching Canada win the Deutschland Cup and took that fighting spirit onto the course at Valderrama to win the World Golf Championship.
Kane had more than confidence on her side. Having bought a Florida home nearby in Titusville, she often comes to LPGA headquarters for practice and is well acquainted with the Legends Course.
Keeping her patience throughout the day, she burst into the lead with four straight birdies, including a chip from about 20 feet on the par-3 15th.
"There's still a long way to the finish line," Kane said. "But I'm definitely ahead of the game."
While Webb is going for $2 million, Kane needs a victory to become the fourth woman this year to earn over $1 million. Now that she know what it takes to win, the finish line looks a lot closer than it used to.
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