You don't have to check the LPGA statistics to find out if Canadian golfer Dawn Coe-Jones is playing well. Just ask her how well her Sunday-morning breakfasts have gone down. When Coe-Jones is sitting pretty on the leader board, breakfast is more than she can stomach. "If I'm in one of the last groups on Sunday, I'm in a frenzy," she says, "and breakfast just doesn't taste good."
Sunday breakfast hasn't been all that appetizing of late. Four times this season Coe-Jones, 32, has been in contention to win going into the final round. Though she hasn't won yet in 1993—she won the Women's Kemper Open last year—Coe-Jones predicts that it won't be long before she's able to savor another Sunday-night victory dinner. "I've got a much different mind-set now," she says. "I've gotten better at believing in myself."
Coe-Jones stands ninth on the LPGA money list this year. Her optimism, however, isn't merely a gut reaction to a few good outings. She has been coming on strong for years. She has 23 top-10 finishes over the past four seasons—all despite having not taken a lesson since leaving home in Lake Cowichan, B.C., at the age of 18. "I've got a flat, quick, ugly swing," she admits, "but I've saved a lot of money on lessons." In 1992, her best year, Coe-Jones earned $251,392, 17th on the list.
She gives much of the credit for her improved play and upbeat attitude to her husband of six months, Jimmy Jones, an entrepreneur—he's developing a new line of women's golf shoes—whose own determination to succeed has rubbed off on her. "He isn't stymied by adversity," she says.
There was a time when Coe-Jones didn't know adversity existed. After learning the game from her logger father, Jack, and from the golf pro at a nine-hole course near Lake Cowichan, Dawn racked up a string of junior and amateur golf titles. In 1979 she left the small (pop. 2,391) logging village with a set of luggage, a bag of golf clubs and a case of cockeyed optimism, bound for Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. She won a spot on the Lamar women's golf team as a freshman walk-on and, after a brief bout of homesickness, learned to thrive in the land of chicken-fried steak and country music. "Except for the grits, it was wonderful," she says. Coe-Jones ultimately earned a degree in elementary education and became a George Strait fan. "I thought everything in life would be rosy," she says.
But the next few years didn't turn out that way. During her first five seasons on the tour, 1984 to '88, she earned an average of only $46,700 a year and felt her confidence plummet. Her personal life also took a turn for the worse. Her mother, Edie, died of cancer in 1987; her father passed away four years later, the result of a blood clot in his leg. The losses devastated Coe.
Her life didn't begin to come together again until she met Jimmy in 1991 and moved from Texas to Tampa to be near him and several other friends from the tour, including Lisa Walters, a fellow British Columbian. Now that Tampa has its own NHL franchise, the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning, Coe-Jones, a die-hard Montreal Canadien fan, feels right at home. She is intrigued by the unconditional support displayed by Lightning fans. "They cheer line changes," she says with a smile.
Clearly, everything is looking rosy again.
After years of adversity, on and off the course, Canada's best golfer is finally having a blast.