TORONTO — Ellie Szeryk was preparing to tee off during a practice round at Vancouver's Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club, going over her yardage book, managing the course, when she noticed her ball had been knocked off the tee.
Her older sister Maddie had struck again, likely getting revenge for a joke about her short stature earlier in their round.
The Szeryk sisters will be in the same group when the CPKC Women's Open begins on Thursday, the first time Ellie will play in Canada's national women's golf championship and her first LPGA Tour appearance. The shenanigans will likely be kept to a minimum, however, once play starts at the only LPGA Tour event north of the border.
"It's pretty special. It's always been a dream of mine," said Ellie, a junior at Southern Methodist University in Texas, on playing in a professional event with Maddie. "I always knew my sister was going to be on the LPGA Tour but she's like five years older than me so we never really got to play in the amateur ranks together.
"So that was pretty cool, putting next to her on the green and it's comforting because if (Maddie) wasn't here, I'd be a nervous wreck."
Maddie, 27, is in the midst of a career season on the LPGA Tour, sitting 88th on the circuit's rankings and playing in several majors for the first time. She's the second highest rated Canadian on the women's tour, behind only No. 11 Brooke Henderson.
Ellie, 22, had eight top-20 finishes this past NCAA season and tied for second on the Mustangs with 23 rounds of par or better. She led the team with nine rounds in the 60s during the 2022-23 season.
The Szeryks were laughing and having fun on Tuesday and Wednesday but plan to get serious when they're grouped with Australia's Su Oh in Thursday's first round.
"I think we'll have a conversation closer to tomorrow," said Maddie. "So just light jokes right now."
Added Ellie: "She's just giving me directions right now, like this is where you go, don't use more than three balls on the practice green, that kind of stuff."
The sisters from London, Ont., are two of the 15 Canadians in the field. Along with Henderson, they will be joined by pros Alena Sharp of Hamilton, Brigitte Thibault of Rosemere, Que., and Quebec City's Sarah-Eve Rheaume.
Team Canada amateurs Lauren Kim of Surrey, B.C., Katie Cranston of Oakville, Ont., Lauren Zaretsky of Thornhill, Ont., and Brooke Rivers of Brampton, Ont., are also in the field.
Amateurs Luna Lu of Burnaby, B.C., Vancouver's Victoria Liu, Angela Arora of Surrey, B.C., Toronto's Vanessa Borovilos, Yeji Kwon of Port Coquitlam, B.C., and Victoria's Sonja Tang round out the Canadian contingent.
The Women's Open hasn't been held in British Columbia's Lower Mainland since Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam hosted the event in 2015. Maddie, who is playing in the national championship for a sixth time, knows that as a Canadian she'll draw more fans than she would at a regular LPGA Tour event.
"The Canadian Open always has a huge fan base," said Maddie. "There's always the biggest crowds. I think the Canadians really rally around this because it's our one event and no matter where it is, there's just always tons of people."
Ellie, making her LPGA Tour debut, has more modest expectations for the spectators she might draw.
"I am just happy to be here, I have no expectations for anything," said Ellie. "I'm not the star of the show, (Brooke Henderson) or Maddie is.
"Even if it's one person, I'll take it. Even if that one person is my mom or my dad."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 23, 2023.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press