Dalhousie, city honor rising LPGA star

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Dalhousie Golf Club has seen its touring pro, LPGA British Open winner Karen Stupples, go from relative unknown to the hottest player on the LPGA tour over their three-year relationship.

Starting from the beginning of her contract with the fledgling golf club in 2001, at which time Dalhousie was still under construction, Stupples and Dalhousie have grown together.

"Our paths have paralleled," Dalhousie managing member Cord Dombrowski said.

Added Stupples, "It's very cool to see how the course has matured."

Those paths crossed once again this week with Stupples in town as part of her obligations to Dalhousie. After visiting with Southeast Missouri State University football players and athletic staff at Tuesday's Southeast media day, Stupples took part in the first Stupples Cup on Friday afternoon before a reception in her honor at Dalhousie Downtown Friday evening.

It was all part of Karen Stupples Day, as proclaimed by Mayor Pro Tem Matthew Hopkins.

And in keeping with the theme of Karen Stupples Day, Stupples' team won the afternoon scramble, besting the rest of the 12-team field by eight strokes. The event paired pros with three amateur women. Dalhousie members Terri Parmly, Carol Largent and Robin Davis played with Stupples.

"It was a lot of fun," Stupples said of the event. "My team of ladies were fantastic."

The Dalhousie team of Diane Daugherty, Jennifer Coad, Eileen Owens and Betty DeWitt finished in a tie for second with a 131.

This was Stupples' second trip back to Cape after a tour victory, this time after winning the Women's British Open --her first major --in her own backyard. Stupples was born in Dover, England.

"I'm still finding it hard to put into words what winning the British Open means to me," Stupples said.

Stupples has five top 10 finishes this season, including her two victories and a tie for second place her last time out. That strong play has added up to nearly $800,000 this season, which surpassed her winnings over her first five years on the tour. The LPGA's next stop will be Dublin, Ohio, for the Wendy's Championship which gets under way on Friday.

Stupples said managing her game better and an added confidence has helped her recent surge.

"I think I'm actually playing with a lot more confidence," she said. "And knowing I don't have to hit a driver off every tee."

With all of her success, Stupples can't walk through the streets in her native England without being stopped for a picture request or to sign autographs. Having a built-in fan base through Dalhousie's club members, Stupples is even being recognized in Cape Girardeau now.

"I got recognized in Famous Barr, which was kind of strange," she said.

The recent success of Stupples has helped put Dalhousie's name on a world-wide map. Stupples wears a Dalhousie Golf Club hat while playing, along with carrying a Dalhousie bag.

Dalhousie member and Cape Girardeau native David Hahs said he's excited to see Stupples' success and the recognition it is bringing the golf club and the area.

"I'm a lifelong resident of Cape Girardeau, and to see something of Cape Girardeau having exposure in a world-wide stage just makes me feel so proud," he said. "The fact the Dalhousie folks had the foresight and insight to see the potential she has matches the foresight and insight to create the most amazing golf course within 150 miles."

Dalhousie can count on seeing its name on LPGA telecasts through the 2005 season, when its contract with Stupples expires. And while the future of Stupples' relationship with Dalhousie remains to be seen, both sides look for the relationship to continue for years to come.

"I don't see why not," Stupples said. "Everything's gone so well."

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