Alena Sharp knows this season has been tough. But even if she missed the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on Saturday, this week has proven that the 40-year-old can still make noise on the LPGA Tour.
“I just feel like I’m not done yet,” Sharp told the Atlanta Athletic Club star on Saturday after shooting a 3-over 75 in the third round.
Sharp ranks 13th to 54th and is looking for her best career result in a major championship. At the ANA Inspiration 2019 she took 17th place.
Nelly Korda and Lizette Salas are the co-leaders at 15 under, five strokes ahead of a trio of golfers who are in third place.
Sharp, at 4 under, prides itself on her achievement in Atlanta. The native Hamilton was in the penultimate group for the third round on Saturday, the first time in her 16-year career that she was so close to the top of the leaderboard in a major.
Moments like these motivate her to compete, despite the fact that most weeks she competes against golfers who are about 20 years younger than her.
“It’s been an uphill battle this year and to be in the penultimate group of a major on the last 36 holes is a testament to my courage and effort,” said Sharp. “I really enjoy being out here and playing all the fantastic courses we can play and the majors – they’re obviously called that for a reason – are a tougher test. When it gets more difficult out there, I like that. “
Sharp was 1 under for her round on Saturday before making a double bogey on the sixth par-4 and bogeys on holes 10 and 11.
The sixth hole, Sharp said, was the only slip on an otherwise solid day. She hit 15 of 18 greens and nearly made birdies on 12, 13, 14 and 17.
“If a couple of those come in I’ll be tied for the day and I’d be happy with that,” she said. “The birdie chances have increased in the last few days, but not today. That was the difference. “
Sharp admitted being in the penultimate group was a little nerve wracking, but she managed to navigate so well early on, especially after doing birdie on the par-4 fifth. She said she was more nervous on Friday as she tried to back up her solid start on Thursday.
“I wanted to prove to myself that it wasn’t just a one-day thing,” Sharp said.
Her Canadian compatriot Brooke Henderson also had just one bad hole on Saturday. She rolled six birdies on her third round, but made a double bogey on the 18th par-5. The 10-time LPGA Tour winner shot a 3-under 69 and sits at 3 under for the tournament.
With a solid Sunday, Henderson could complete her second consecutive top 10 finish with a major after tied seventh at the US Women’s Open three weeks ago. Sharp, on the other hand, is looking for its first top 10 with a major.
Although Sharp said she’s not focused on the result, she knows that given her results by 2021, it will be hard not to be when she puts a tee in the ground on Sunday. Her best result this season is a draw for the 31st.
“Tomorrow I won’t be like, ‘Oh, I want to have a top 10.’ I mean that would be great, but when it happens, it happens, ”Sharp said. “I want to play solid 18 holes again tomorrow and just continue what I have done in the last three days – be committed and present with every shot.”
Sharp tees off with American Cydney Clanton at 12:15 p.m. EST, while Henderson leaves with Australian Gabriela Ruffels at 11:55 a.m.
This is the last tournament before the women’s golf field is confirmed for the Olympics. Sharp and Henderson have already committed their places to Canada.
Adam Stanley is an Ottawa-based contributor for Star’s sports division and the host of Next Round’s On Me golf podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @adam_stanley
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