Sharp against the current

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

It's not unusual to see Canadian women make dramatic moves on any given LPGA weekend leaderboard.

Unfortunately, they're usually moving down. Not up.

But Hamilton's Alena Sharp made like a salmon yesterday, swimming against her country's lacklustre current to post a sparkling 67 in the third round of the CN Canadian Women's Open.

"I birdied nine and it was like the gates opened," said the Hamilton native, who went three-under on the back nine and sits at four-under 209 for the tournament.

'IN THE ZONE'

"I was hitting it so well, hitting it so close to the hole. I just felt really confident, like I was in the zone.

"I was hitting fairways and greens.

"I'm very pleased with my round, four under on a Saturday. I haven't really played very well on the weekend this year, so it's a great start to my weekend for this tournament."

Sharp, who began the day in a 15-way tie for 33rd, jumped into 13th heading into today's final round.

It's heady ground for a 26-year-old who's never finished higher than T11 in her two-year career.

"Today was the way I played over at the British," said Sharp, who climbed up the leaderboard to finish T23 after a final round 71 at St. Andrews. "The first two days I was a little nervous and wasn't hitting the shots I normally do, but today was more like I've been playing. I feel like I have a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence.

"I feel like I took that (British Open) momentum and brought it over to this tournament."

With 12 of 15 Canadians missing the cut, and the other two (veterans Nancy Harvey and A.J. Eathorne making it on the number), Sharp is Canada's last best hope for a Sunday charge.

The leading Canadian money winner this year - she's won $103,000, and could bump that total considerably here - is also one breakthrough event away from becoming the new face of women's golf in this country.

It's a responsibility that she's only now beginning to understand.

"Yeah, I feel it this week already," said Sharp, a big hitter who's eighth in driving distance (264 average) on tour. "Everybody has been saying it every day.

"And I've played the best this year so far (of the Canadians)."

How does that sit with her, being an entire nation's go-to girl?

"I'm proud to be that player. I think it's a big responsibility because I see how Lorie is pressured. She's a great ambassador for our country, she's done so well. To follow in her footsteps would be something that I really look forward to.

KEEP SMILIN'

"It's a lot of pressure, but you have to try and forget about when you're on the golf course. Smile when you get off the golf course and be happy that you're the one they want to win.

"I'm looking forward to it in the future. I really love Canada. I live in Phoenix in the winter, but I love coming home."

So, is she from really putting her stamp on this country?

"I haven't had a top 10, yet," she said. "When I start doing that it means I'm closer to what I would like to be doing every week."

But she's quick to point out that being the best player in Canada isn't the top of her ladder.

"To be No. 1 in the world, that's my goal, eventually."


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