January 30, 2011
Sharp continues steady progress
By IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency
TORONTO - By PGA Tour standards, Hamilton’s Alena Sharp would be getting off to a late start on the season even for marquee players, but it will be an early start on the LPGA Tour when she tees it up in the HSBC Women’s Champions Event in just over three weeks in Singapore.
Sharp, now in her sixth full season on the LPGA Tour, finished 56th on last year’s money list, a considerable jump from her 78th-place standing of the year before.
Her one top-10 in 2010 won’t make Sharp a marquee player on tour, but she did have four top-20s to send her into 2011.
“We didn’t have as many events last year and I still had my best year since I’ve been on the LPGA. It’s just coming along every year and I feel really confident and really psyched to go out this year and start the year really strong and keep it going,” said Sharp.
“Obviously, you’re in an advantage when you’re in a better position on the money list because you get into the limited-field events at the beginning of the year, so I’m fortunate to play in those,” she added.
The tour had only 24 events on the schedule last year and with one more added for this season, Sharp is in a more advantageous situation than a rookie such as Barrie’s Stephanie Sherlock.
Sharp says she hopes to see the tour get to a point where they would be at least 20 tournaments available for each player.
“It is hard to get going,” Sharp said. “When I first started on tour, we had tournaments in February. Now, we’re pushing the end of March, so it’s not the best predicament that we’re in.”
Sharp will also play in majors such as the Kraft Nabisco Championship and U.S. Women’s Open this year.
Last year, she didn’t get started on her season until the end of March, but her rise up the money list still leaves room for improvement, according to Sharp, who has been working on her short game, particularly her putting with Dave Stockton Jr. for the past year.
Sharp says Stockton changed her grip and routine, all with the goal of getting her putts better on line, and while it was awkward at first, she adds that it has since become natural.
“It just took me a few months to get used to it all because it was a new system for me, but it started working really well. I wasn’t really thinking so much about mechanics,” said Sharp. “That’s what I do in the fairway. I don’t think about my swing. Now, I do that on the green, so it’s consistent throughout my game.
“I was just so mechanical and thinking about all the wrong things.
“When you miss a lot of putts, that’s what happens — you start thinking about all of the things you shouldn’t be thinking about.
“He’s really just simplified my thought process and my routine and it really helped me,” she said.
Putting is just one more piece to the puzzle as Sharp seeks consistency and confidence as she progresses, even with Canadians hoping that she or Lorie Kane or Sherlock might come through with Canada’s first tour win in 10 years.
“I think it’s just a learning curve. I’ve always done that in my golf. I’ve never come out and dominated in anything. Every year, I just got a little better,” said Sharp, who acknowledges that Canadians are hoping a tour win comes soon.
“I think right now, they do. I don’t feel any extra pressure because I put enough pressure on myself,” she said.