Alena's beyond be-Leaf

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:03 PM ET

Unless somebody gets to Alena Sharp quick, Ottawa sports fans will see the next great Canadian hope on the LPGA Tour as having one serious flaw to her game.

Tacky blue head covers.

"I was waiting for that one to come up," Sharp said with a sigh and a chuckle when asked about the Toronto Maple Leafs logos in her bag on pro-am day at the 2008 CN Canadian Women's Open.

"Last year in Edmonton I got flack about it, and this year I was going to say that if someone was willing to bring an Ottawa Senators head cover I'll put it on my bag for the week. So I guess if you want to put that out in the media ..."

For those wanting to help her with the proper makeover, Sharp will need new tees, too.

The ones she's using have the world's smallest Leaf logo.

A 27-year-old Hamilton native who played out of the Brantford Golf and Country Club, Sharp says she's been a Buds fan since as far back as she can remember.

"It was Mats Sundin," she claimed, when asked her favourite Leaf. "But not so much anymore. He can't make a decision."

What has been agreed upon is that, with Dawn Coe-Jones retiring and Lorie Kane closing in on her 44th birthday, Sharp heads the next wave of those stamped with a red Maple Leaf who plan on making a mark in women's golf. That would include the 16 Canadians playing at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club this week.

"I think it goes in ebbs and flows, and I think we're back on the rise now again," Coe-Jones said about the number of Canucks poised to make an impact in women's golf. "I think in the next few years you're going to see a lot more Canadian golfers out there on tour.

"We went through a period of time we didn't have anybody new coming up. It's nice to see Alena like the leader out there now.

"She's been playing well and getting more and more comfortable out there. The younger gals that are in amateur golf are closer in age to Alena and see what she's done.

"I think she's going be to the one that will lead the next group out there."

While she has struggled of late missing the cut six times in 10 tournaments, Sharp has had a solid season. She has won $116,984, good for 75th place on the LPGA money list, and now, in her third year on the Tour, sits at $437,664 in career earnings.

Confident that her recent putting problems are behind her, Sharp feels she is on the verge of even greater success. And the timing, she noted, couldn't be better.

"Everybody always says Canada is waiting for another Canadian winner, especially here this week," said Sharp, who finished tied for 10th at last year's Canadian Open.

"A lot of the marshals have said it already. Little things like that.

"I'm sure Mike Weir went through it a few weeks ago, and Lorie is going through it this week. We just want a Canadian winner. It's going to happen at one point, so hopefully it's this week.

"I'm 27 years old, it's my third year on tour, and every year has gotten a little bit better.

"I'm more consistent this year. Something's going to happen. I've been knocking at the door. My game is in great shape. I'm hoping that it's this week.

"If it's not, I know that something is going to happen this year that all this frustration that I've gone through on the putting green, it's going to equal something great for me."

If it happens this week, she might have to make a permanent switch to Senators head covers.

HEAD SCRATCHERS

Bad Driver of the Day Award goes not to any of the "Ammies" in the pro-am, but the volunteer at the wheel of a shuttle bus that ripped off the bumper of a parked car and ran over a sandwich board sign near the front gate of the club. And no one even heard him yell "fore" ... They are two of the greatest athletes produced by their homeland, but Annika Sorenstam has not even met Daniel Alfredsson. "I don't know him," Sorenstam said when asked if she had been contacted by the Senators captain yet this week. "Obviously I've heard of him. He's a big Swedish hero, but I don't know him. I'm not expecting to hear from him, but if he shows up here I would love to say hi." ... Apparently, the good people in charge of producing the interview transcripts aren't hockey fans. They have him down as Daniel Alverson .... Don't recall a single interview yesterday where it wasn't pointed out that the rough is thick and the greens are tough if the ball isn't guided to the right spot. The way a major tournament should be, right? So how does Brittany Lincicome post a 61 and Inbee Park fire a 64 yesterday? Gimmies and mullies?

INSIDE THE ROPES

There are seven, count 'em seven, Kims entered in the field. Sue, Birdie, Christina, In-Kyung, Song-Hee, Su A and Young. Next in line is the Parks and the Lees, of which there are five each ... Bad rumour of the day had Lorena Ochoa withdrawing from the tournament yesterday afternoon. That's bad as in incorrect, and bad as in bad news for the other contenders that she didn't ... Unconfirmed rumour of the day: Missing from his familiar stomping grounds this week will be Bunker, the dog that belongs to Hunt Club superintendent Eric Ruhs. Talk is he has a hair ball ... Anybody wanting to give CHEO some money, this is the perfect time. Until the end of the tournament, CN is matching dollar for dollar all donations, I repeat all donations, whether they come from individuals or companies.


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