KINGSVILLE — Going into this week’s PGA of Canada Ororo Women’s Championship, it was clear Alena Sharp was the prohibitive favourite. She’s an LPGA veteran with nine professional wins, including two Canadian PGA Women’s championships and almost $3 million US in career winnings.
She fired a sizzling 66 the first round, following up Wednesday with a 69 for a 9-under total, five shots clear of the nearest competitor, Lauren Zaretsky, an amateur from Thornhill Ontario. Min-G Kim and Belinda Lin finished tied for third.
Sharp said she went into the final round at the Kingsville Golf and Country Club with a mindset that no lead is secure.
“I needed to get off to a good start,” she said. “I think the front nine is scoreable with (three) par fives being reachable and I did that. I was four-under after seven holes for my start and then I didn’t do too much on the back nine. I had a lot of opportunities but I lipped out a lot of putts.”
With the win, Sharp receives an exemption to the the CP Women’s Open, an LPGA event scheduled Aug. 21 to 27 at the Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver. She also wins $7,000 for her top finish Wednesday at the Ororo tournament.
Sharp, who grew up in Hamilton and lives in Arizona, has partial status on the LPGA tour, but is concentrating her efforts on the Epson Tour, a feeder tour for the LPGA, to gain enough points to guarantee full status on the main tour next season.
She has a great game, obviously. She didn’t miss many shots. That’s what I noticed. She’s very consistent with her iron play. Good short game. No real mistakes.”
“I don’t have great status … I would be in for next week’s (LPGA) event in Toledo but I’m not going to play, so I’ll play the Epson Tour because I’m in the top 10 and top 10 is the best card to get, given my situation.”
Sharp is playing well. She had a win on the Epson Tour last month in North Carolina and followed it up with a seventh and fourth place in the following two tournaments.
“My game is in good shape and I just have to ride the confidence wave,” she said.
Caroline Ciot, a club pro from Quebec, was in the final group with Sharp. She was impressed with Sharp’s play.
“She has a great game, obviously. She didn’t miss many shots. That’s what I noticed. She’s very consistent with her iron play. Good short game. No real mistakes.”
Ciot was the top club pro, finishing the two-day tournament at one over. Kingsville club pro Sadie Dewinton-Davies shot rounds of 76 and 73, finishing 17th among 42 players. Alyssa Getty, a former teaching pro at Kingsville, shot rounds of 79 and 78, placing 27th.
There are some big names in Canadian golf who have won this tournament: Laurie Kane has won seven times and Brooke Henderson twice.
“It has cache. A lot of big names have won this tournament,” said Gord Percy, head of the PGA of Canada.
He said tournaments like the Ororo Women’s Championship act as a stepping stone for young women aspiring to play on the LPGA tour.
“It’s not just the play, it’s how they handle themselves. The first day we had a pro-am; they’re playing with volunteers and sponsors, they’re learning how to work within the business, learning what they have to step into in the future.”
Sharp praised the club, the condition of the course — and the army of volunteers, many of whom came out to watch her play.
“I love it. It’s an adrenalin rush. I’ve always liked it ever since I was younger.”
For Jean Page, tournament chairperson, the close of the tournament was a chance to finally relax and reflect on a job well done.
“I can finally breathe a sigh of relief,” she said. “It was a wonderful, wonderful three days.
“Everybody getting together and sharing the experience, it was really wonderful.”