With five Canadian teams in the NHL playoffs, the first game of the NBA playoffs between the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks set for Saturday and the Toronto Blue Jays schedule already underway, there’s little doubt that there’s some sweet viewing this long weekend for Canadian professional sports fans.
“Go Leafs!!” proclaimed Hamilton’s Alena Sharp on Twitter on Thursday and it’s no secret that Graham DeLaet is a rabid Calgary Flames fan.
As loyal as they are to their respective teams, both Sharp and DeLaet can be forgiven for being a little preoccupied. Both are making a prime time sports weekend a lot more choice with their actions on their respective tours.
At the midway point of the RBC Heritage, DeLaet is tied for the lead with Luke Donald at 10 under and don’t overlook Nick Taylor in a tie for fifth, or Adam Hadwin just five shots back with two rounds remaining.
Moving from Hilton Head, S.C., to Oahu, Sharp is tied for second, three shots off the lead with one round remaining at the Lotte Championship in which she has put up only two bogeys in the three rounds thus far, the most recent being one on 18 on Friday.
Meanwhile in Duluth, Ga., Stephen Ames, who won four times on the PGA Tour, including the Players Championship, is tied for third, just two shots off the lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic as he seeks his initial PGA Tour Champions win.
DeLaet and Ames each have 36 holes remaining in their quests and Sharp has one more round, so it’s too early to start talking about long-awaited first wins on their respective tours.
“I’m looking forward to not getting up at 4:45 again like I did (Friday) morning,” said DeLat.
“It’s always a little bit different when you’re in the final groups. Obviously, you have more time to think about different things, but I’ve been in enough of them now that you just have to kind of preoccupy yourself in the morning. No matter what time I tee off I’ll be ready to go (Saturday),” he added.
“Our country loves golf and we’ve got tons and tons of support and trust me, I want nothing more than to get a win for them. It’s kind of the only thing missing on my résumé I feel out here. I want it, but I just have to keep playing good golf for the next couple of days, and hopefully that will take care of it,” said DeLaet.
Sharp’s career best in her 11 years as a full-time LPGA Tour player is a fourth-place finish at last year’s CP Women’s Open in Calgary,
￼It won’t be easy for either of them, but it’s not supposed to be. Sharp will need to shake that bogey on her final hole on Friday, but she’s been calm and composed since arriving in Hawaii.
The 66 that she posted in the third round is her best of what was already an outstanding week for Sharp, but Su-Yeon Jang was one better with a 65 on the day. Add into the mix 18-time winner Cristie Kerr, who fired a 10-under 62 on Friday and is now tied with Sharp for second.
So, the question about whether she can continue at her current pace is not exclusive to Sharp, but also Kerr and Jang, a sponsor’s invite. Is there another 62 or anything similar out there on Saturday?
From Sharp’s perspective, she would be best to dismiss such questions and just do what she’s been doing, playing with confidence and composure and getting it done on the greens. On Saturday, she took 27 putts, up a bit from the 24 she took in the opening round.
“Obviously I would love to win (Saturday), but if I don’t I’m really proud of how I played this week coming back from having a rough month in March, so we’ll see what happens,” said Sharp.￼
The same holds true for DeLaet, who is tied with former world No. 1 Luke Donald, at the midway point of the RBC Heritage.
“In the past I’ve gotten off to a bad start or things don’t go the way I want early in the round and I start pushing instead of just waiting. When you’re playing well, you’re going to have lots of chances and holing those putts when you have the chance and hitting the right shot at the right time. That’s the main thing for me – stay in the present and just be patient,” said DeLaet.
Getting ahead of themselves is a huge temptation with realistic shots at their first wins ahead of them this, but it’s one that they’ll have to avoid over their remaining holes.
“I’m just going to go at it like I did the last three days and see what happens,” said Sharp.
It’s the job of the armchair golfers on the couch watching to worry about what’s easier said than done. There’s a big difference between them and the people who actually have to get it done.
Yet, the anticipation of what could happen adds to what is already a sweet weekend for sports fans.