The schedule-juggling that it took to accommodate the Olympics in Rio has resulted in a three-week celebration of women’s golf in Canada and that’s pretty cool, according to Hamilton’s Alena Sharp.
“It’s nice to be home right after the Olympics, to continue wearing the red and white this week and next week, for two weeks in a row, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate being at the Olympics than playing in Canada two weeks in a row,” said Sharp, who is at Priddis Greens near Calgary to play the CP Women’s Open.
Next week, she’ll be in Cambridge, Ont., to play the Manulife LPGA Classic, the final stop on a long journey that began with the trip to Rio.
“The first night, we got all of our Canada gear and then went out to the golf course the next day and we actually got to take in the women’s basketball game that night,” said Sharp.
“Just to be part of a big Team Canada and watch them play was fun and just being in the village around all the other athletes, we really had a great time and it’s something that I’ll never forget,” she said.
“I think the moment that stuck out the most to me was the closing ceremonies, just walking in with everybody else from Team Canada into that stadium with the roaring crowd, kind of brings a tear to your eye, just knowing you worked so hard to get to that moment,” added Sharp.
“But the welcoming the first night at the performance centre and getting all the Team Canada gear was really where it sunk in, `Okay, I am an Olympian. I am here,’” she said.
Now, it’s back to reality on more familiar turf than Rio, looking to improve on a season that has seen her rise to 79th in the world. In her last six LPGA Tour events, Sharp has three top-15 finishes.
Her late arrival from Rio, however, had limited her time spent preparing on Priddis Greens, said Sharp Wednesday morning.
“It definitely is going to be, obviously, completely different. I haven’t played the course yet. I walked around the front (Tuesday) because I’ve never played that side,” said Sharp.
“I got my lines off the tee and hit a few balls and had to go back to the hotel and get ready for the pro-am party (Tuesday) night, so I haven’t really seen the rough, but I’ve heard it’s thick, and obviously in Rio, there was no rough, its fairway running into wasteland. I think that’s going to play different,” she added.
“Obviously the grass is different, so I’m going to spend some time chipping (Wednesday) when I get done, so I have a lot of work to do today because just getting here late from the closing ceremonies,” said Sharp.
“At the end of the day, it’s a golf course. I’m playing well, so get the right decision off the tee for course management and just go out there and do my best this week,” she said.
Playing well includes last week, even though she finished 30th and didn’t get the medal she had hoped for, but she adds that she was hitting the ball well, even if her putter did let her down at times.
“I think, for me last week, I wanted it so bad that maybe I tried, not tried too hard, but I was hitting the ball really well, giving myself opportunities, and I just didn’t make putts and I reacted to them negatively,” she said.
“I lipped out like five or six times in the first couple days and my body language got a little poor and Tristan (coach Mullally) noticed it and so did my caddie Sarah (Bowman), and we tuned that, tweaked that a little bit the last two days, and I didn’t react as much to my putts, and I started making putts on the last day,” she said.
“So I think that was a good learning experience and then just enjoying walking up to the green to make the putt to go in as opposed to `Oh, now I’ve got to putt,’” said Sharp.
“On the fairway, though, I was like all over it. I think taking that attitude into this week, enjoying the crowd that’s going to be here and just enjoying being at home, I think taking that on to the putting green and also taking it all in playing in this tournament,” she added.