Wilson Golf Reed On The Greens, by Jeffrey Reed
February 28, 2011
Copyright 2011 London Ontario Golf
One-On-One With LPGA Tour’s Alena Sharp
“I know one thing for sure, I will win on the LPGA Tour before the Leafs win another Stanley Cup.” – Alena Sharp
Hamilton, Ontario’s Alena Sharp almost single-handedly carries the Canadian flag on the LPGA Tour. A graduate of New Mexico State University (2003, Business Management), Sharp’s rookie season arrived in 2005. In 2010, she made 14 cuts in 20 tournaments, and winnings of $172,599 (T55). But Sharp turned in a career-best stroke average of 72.5 (52nd), and was 22nd in greens in regulation. This season on the big Tour, Sharp finished T50 at the HSBC Women’s Championship. But just last week, she claimed victory – her ninth as a pro – on the professional Cactus Tour, a mini-tour based in Arizona. She posted a score of 15-under 201 at the 54-hole tournament in Phoenix where she now makes her home.
Still looking for her first LPGA Tour win, but fresh off a win and keen on her game, Sharp spent some time with London Ontario Golf as she kicked off her 2011 season.
LondonOntarioGolf.com: Talk about your 2010 season. You had a great tourney at the Jamie Farr Owen’s Corning Classic – 65/68/73/68 T10. Your stroke average was 72.5. How would you assess your year?
Alena Sharp: I had a decent year in 2010. It was one of the best years that I have had on Tour. I attribute most of the success to putting better in 2010 (114th with 30.67 average, and T79 with 1.84 average – greens in regulation). In 2008 and ’09 my putting has been keeping me back but not in 2010. I now have the confidence on the greens that is needed to win golf tournaments. I have hit a lot of greens the past three years. When you hit a lot of greens you need to make putts and I started to do that in 2010.
LOG: Two years ago, you told London Ontario Golf: “I think sometimes I try to force it. I’m not thinking, force it. But I just need to relax out there and hit shots, let the putts fall in on their own. Not try to force a birdie, because when you do that you’re never going to score the way you want.” Have you conquered this, and therefore rely on your talent and hard work to hopefully carry you to the next level? You are still looking for your first win on the LPGA Tour and we saw some signs in 2010 that pointed to you being very close – what will it take to reach that goal?
Sharp: I feel like I am very close to winning on Tour. Obviously I need to keep putting myself in position to win every week. I got some advice from Juli Inkster, who told me that you just can’t make it a big deal in your head. You have to hit every shot like it is any other shot. If you tell yourself you have to hit it close or you need to make this putt, then most likely you won’t. It’s just a game and that’s the way you should see it from the 1st hole to the 72nd hole. I think that this is good advice for me since I sometimes try too hard. When I just let things happen I always play better. So this is something that I am going to work at in 2011.
LOG: There are very few Canadians on Tour. What should Canadian golf do to develop young female golfers so that they can compete on a national level and on professional tours, in particular the LPGA Tour?
Sharp: I believe that Golf Canada is doing a better job in giving our juniors and amateurs more experience by playing against the best players in the world. They are also getting more coaching and support than players did in the past. We have more Canadians (six) on Tour now than we did three years ago. It will just continue to get better.
LOG: Do you still feel pressure to carry the Canadian flag from tournament to tournament? Is it a role you embrace?
Sharp: I feel pressure to carry the Canadian flag at the Canadian Open. It is a role that I relish. I am very proud to be Canadian. It is tough at the Canadian Open but if I can get through that tournament and do well, then I can do well anywhere.
LOG: You work with Craig Harmon and Dave Stockton, Jr., two notable coaches. How have they helped your game?
Sharp: I have learned a lot about my swing from Craig Harmon. We have been working together since 2003. I feel like I know what needs to be done out on the course when something gets off track, and that is important to have because everyone has holes or days where their ball striking is a little off. I started working with Dave Stockton, Jr. in 2010 and he has helped me with my putting. I feel much more confident with my routine, my stroke and my head. I know that I am going to make putts now whereas before when I would step up to a putt I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it or not. He has gotten me away from focusing on mechanics to focusing on making the ball roll on my intended line. It has definitely made a huge difference and I think it is a contributor to my lower scoring average in 2010.
LOG: Your charity work for Alzheimer Society of Brant/Hamilton/Halton is well-known. Congratulations on all the great work you’ve done. Talk a bit about how your raise money, and about plans for the future.
Sharp: I am very proud of the charities that I am involved with. I am passionate about the Alzheimer Society and I am also the Ambassador for Golf Fore The Cure. We have held a tournament to raise money for Alzheimer’s for the last five years. It is nice to see the same people come back and support the tournament. Even in a rough economy where most charity events have suffered, we have prospered.
LOG: You are a true Canadian – love your Tim Hortons double-double, use a Canadian coin on the greens, and even cheer for the Toronto Maple Leafs. When will the Leafs finally win the Stanley Cup?
Sharp: Well the Leafs are pretty far off from winning a Stanley Cup. Living in the States you don’t see a lot of hockey highlights. Maybe Leafs management will finally do something and get some young players in and work from the ground up like the Penguins did a few years ago. I know one thing for sure, I will win on the LPGA Tour before the Leafs win another Stanley Cup.
LOG: What music do you listen to? What else do you do during down time to relax?
Sharp: I listen to almost everything minus Country, Rap and Heavy Metal. I like to listen to music that isn’t too upbeat before I go out and play. I am a fan of Maroon 5, and I am into the music from Glee at the moment. I really enjoy playing hockey and working out in my down time and, of course, playing some Wii.