Sharp swinging for a big '08

IAN HUTCHINSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

In a world inhabited by the likes of Morgan Pressel, Paula Creamer and others of the wonder-kid variety, the word potential has evolved into a word to be used only briefly before the focus shifts to what hasn't yet been accomplished in a young career.

It's this expectation of instant gratification that makes it necessary for those still reaching for the first significant benchmark of their LPGA Tour careers to tune out the outside noise and concentrate on the task at hand.

"Everyone has their own learning curve out there," said Hamilton's Alena Sharp, 26, admitting her development has been less than meteoric.

"I've always done better every year, so I've just got to keep working hard on my game and I know it will happen. Some people come out there and have success right away. I know I'm not that type of person. Not to say that I won't win next year, but I needed to have a good year like this past year to move on."

Sharp can take strength in the fact that she accomplished what she calls some "cool things" this year and that's the reason she will begin '08 as half of the Canadian team at the Women's World Cup of Golf on Jan. 19-21 in Sun City, South Africa.

Sharp not only is playing in her first World Cup, but after finishing 57th on the money list, she got to pick her partner and went with veteran Lorie Kane, who was 74th on the money list. Unless Kane, 42, can do a U-turn in her fortunes this year, Sharp now is the great Canadian hope on the women's tour.

"If we're both playing well, we're going to do well in South Africa. I feel like we're going to have a good shot at winning it," said Sharp, who enters this season in a considerably better position than she did a year ago when she narrowly missed getting her full-time card by one position on the money list.

One would assume that would mean a return to qualifying school, but after asking around, the 1999 Canadian junior champ decided against it.

"There weren't a lot of cards at Q-school. Not to say that I wouldn't have been able to get through, but I played in everything this year that I would have played in if I was an exempt member, so there was really no point in going down there and getting stressed out," she said.

The stress eased in February when Sharp started the season with a tie for 11th at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay. "That good start in Hawaii, putting some money in the bank, it was assurance that I was going to play well this year. It was nice to start the year like that," she said.

TURNING POINT

More highlights were to come, but according to Sharp, a turning point in her career came off the golf course in March when she was in Phoenix and hooked up with respected teachers Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, co-founders of Vision54, which still fascinates Sharp.

"I just learned a lot about myself at their golf school and applied it to my game," she said. "I played a lot better starting in April. I didn't miss a lot of cuts after that. I wasn't thinking about cuts. I was focusing on the little things that I can control.

"I became more aware of how I was acting on the golf course and how it was holding me back (by) getting down on myself. Ever since that camp, my attitude was a lot better. If I had a bad hole, I would shake it off.

"It resulted in turning rounds that weren't so good around to average rounds and rounds that were average rounds into great rounds."

Her baby steps seem to be getting larger and that marathon to success that she started at the beginning of her career seems to be picking up the pace these days.


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