WINNIPEG -- Alena Sharp longs to be the next Canadian to make her way to the winner's circle.
If the Hamilton product could do it this week at the CN Canadian Women's Open at St. Charles Country Club, all the better.
"Definitely, I want to do well for myself but it would be great to put Canada back on the map in women's golf," said Sharp, a 29-year-old who broke onto the LPGA Tour in 2006. "I'm happy to be back in Canada. I get to have my Tim Horton's coffee and it feels like I'm at home.
"It's our U.S. Open, here in Canada. It's really important to me. My parents coming every year and I enjoy playing in front of them. I enjoy going to the different provinces we play every year. It's a huge thing."
Trying to find the proper balance between caring enough, but not putting too much pressure on herself is a challenge Canadians have been battling since 1973, when Jocelyne Bourassa wore the crown.
"It's always very important for me to play well in this event," said Sharp, who has accumulated $113,340 (53rd on the money list) in earnings on the LPGA Tour in 2010 and is the top Canadian. "Sometimes I put too much pressure on myself, but I've had a good year this year and it feels like this golf course sets up well for my game. I'm hoping for a really good finish here.
"It's hard. Every year I come in here thinking of this like any other event, but you can't do that. Everybody wants you to do well and I put a lot of pressure on myself anyway. All the Canadians go through it. You've just got to get through the week."
Now in her fifth season on the LPGA Tour, Sharp is seeing the growth in her game to make her believe her time is coming.
"Obviously the goal is always to win and I haven't done that yet, but I do have a Top-10," said Sharp, referring to her tie for 10th at the Jamie Farr Owen's Corning Classic. "I'm putting myself in position and I feel my game is a lot stronger this year than last year mentally and my short game is a lot better. I'm hitting a lot of greens, so it's just a matter of staying patient and knowing that the day will come soon enough."
Finding a way to keep her emotions in check has been key to working her way up the rankings.
"I definitely feel more and more comfortable as the years go on and I'm more mature with my game and my emotions on the golf course. That's a huge thing for me," said Sharp. "If I have a bad hole, I don't like it get to me on the next hole. I'm getting over it faster and it's helped me a lot. I don't let it spiral into another bad shot."
Sharp reaped the benefits of playing against top-notch competition from a young age and eventually golf became her sport of choice.
"I started when I was 10 but I still played all the other sports -- soccer, hockey, volleyball," said Sharp. "When I was 15 or 16 I really started to think my (golf) practising was paying off. I won the Ontario junior a couple times and everyone was saying I should try to get a scholarship. I got one (to New Mexico State). I got a degree (in marketing), worked really hard on my game and gave myself five years to make it (on the LPGA Tour).
"I made it on my third try and I haven't looked back since."