Canada loses a trailblazer with the passing of Dawn Coe-Jones

In the waning moments of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2004 Stanley Cup triumph, CBC cameras cut to a Canadian living in Florida who, like the hockey team she was watching raise the game’s ultimate prize, knew a little bit about succeeding in the face of stacked odds.

It was Dawn Coe-Jones.

A typical Canadian, she was of course a hockey fan and had adopted the Lightning as her favourite team after moving to Florida. And she was in the building when the Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames in Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final.

Coe-Jones died Saturday after being diagnosed with bone cancer earlier this year. She was 56.

First wave

Born in Campbell River, B.C., Coe-Jones grew up in Lake Cowichan, B.C. She won three times on the LPGA Tour and was part of a wave of Canadian women in the 1990s that established the country as one of the world’s best at the time. That victory total made her the leading Canuck among a group of women that included Jennifer Wyatt, Gail Graham, Lisa Walters, Tina Tombs and, later, Lorie Kane.

Kane, whom Coe-Jones mentored when she gained entry on the LPGA Tour, would later surpass her in career victories and earnings but Coe-Jones was the first Canadian female player to pass the $ 1-million mark.

Aside from her considerable ability, she retained a small-town charm about her that many remember just as much as her accomplishments on the golf course. It may sound cliche but Coe-Jones was an incredibly nice person whose shock of blonde hair and easy laugh and smile masked a competitive streak that kept her among the upper rung of the world’s best players for more than a decade.

Amiable competitor

Coe-Jones never took herself too seriously and always seemed in the same good mood no matter how well, or poorly, she had played. Later on in her career, the LPGA Tour was transformed by waves of players from Asia, particularly South Korea, but Coe-Jones remained competitive well into her 40s. At the age of 42 she tied for 15th in the 2003 Kraft Nabisco, the season’s first major championship, and later made 12 of 16 cuts in 2005, the season she turned 45.

Then competing as Dawn Coe, she qualified for the LPGA on her first attempt in 1983 after a successful college career at the Lamar University. After almost a decade of knocking on the door, Coe knocked it down in 1992 with a victory at the Women’s Kemper Open, a fifth-place at the U.S. Open and a narrow playoff loss at the Oldsmobile Classic.

In addition to her three victories, Coe-Jones had 44 top 10s and $ 3.3 million in career earnings. Though it now has five major championships, Coe-Jones recorded top-five finishes in all four of the LPGA’s majors that were regularly contested in her career.

Remembering Dawn Coe-Jones2:22

A quirky footnote to her performance in majors: she once had a double eagle at the 1992 du Maurier Classic.

Though the game and her marriage to American Jim Jones took her away from her native country, she was a proponent of Canadian golf from the moment she emerged as an elite amateur in the early 1980s. Later in life and toward the end of her competitive career, she often returned to Canada with her son, Jimmy, who she introduced to both golf and hockey.

She was inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 2003 and the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

Her husband and son survive her. Jimmy is a college golfer at the University of South Florida and won the 2015 Florida State Amateur championship. 

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