FALMOUTH – Laurel Kean hopes to play well in this weekend’s Harris Golf Charity Classic at Falmouth Country Club. But if she doesn’t have her ‘A’ game, she won’t be too upset.

She’s just happy to be playing near her place of birth in a tournament on the Legends Tour. Kean, 50, was born in Portland. Her mother grew up near Farmington and met her father, who was from Massachusetts, at the University of Maine.

“I don’t think I lived here a year,” said Kean. “My father got a job in St. Louis, and we ended up in Cleveland. That’s where I grew up.”

Kean walked on to the University of South Florida women’s team as a freshman. By her senior year, she was a Division I All-American.

“My golf game really started to improve in college,” said Kean.

Kean is one of 40 pros in the tournament. The field will play 18 holes Saturday and Sunday. Top prize for the winner is $25,000.

This is the second straight year the Legends Tour has come to Falmouth. A year ago, the event was called the Hannaford Community Challenge. Hannaford decided not to continue sponsorship, so Harris Golf of Bath, which owns Falmouth Country Club and other courses in Maine, became the title sponsor.

Kean got into the tournament through a sponsor’s exemption. Jason Harris of Harris Golf said his family was looking through the list of possible players to grant an exemption and chose Kean because of her Maine connection.

Kean played on the LPGA Tour from 1988 to 2005. She won one tournament, the State Farm Rail Classic in 2000, and lost in a three-way playoff in another, the Sara Lee Classic in 1997. Since 2007, she’s been a golf pro at the LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resort in Naples, Fla.

Kean said she has played in seven Legends Tour tournaments in the last five years.

“I would play in all of them if I could,” she said. “But they’re hard to get in because the first category is the career money list.”

The Legends Tour is for players age 45 and up and gives former LPGA players a chance to stay competitive and earn some money.

Kean has noticed a different atmosphere than when she played on the LPGA Tour.

“It’s a little more relaxed than the regular tour. I’m sure by Sunday afternoon, the players all want to win. It’s just great to be playing here. Some of these players, I haven’t seen in a long time,” she said.

As the players demonstrated at last year’s tournament, they enjoy interacting with the gallery and go out of their way to give their amateur playing partners an enjoyable experience in the pro-ams.

“It’s a win-win all the way around,” said Kean.

Kean admits her game could be a little rusty.

“I may play in one or two of these a year,” she said. “I hadn’t been playing until I learned I had gotten into the tournament. Sometimes if you’re not playing in tournaments, you don’t get motivated to practice. This has given me the motivation.”

Kean would love to finish in the top 10, because that would get her into the next tournament.

“My game probably isn’t sharp enough to do that. I’m just going to go out, relax, and let the shots happen,” said Kean.

The only other time Kean played in competition in Maine was in a pro-am at Riverside Golf Club a few years ago. She expects to have some family support this weekend.

“I have an uncle, an aunt and cousins who still live here,” said Kean.

Her mother lived in West Gardiner for 10 years but now lives in Florida and will be taking care of Kean’s dogs while she’s in Maine.

“I’ve always visited Maine in the summer for two weeks, but not usually to play golf. I would go boating and do other fun things,” she said.

Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

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