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Sharp bounces back in style


Canadian sets standard despite shaky start

Alena Sharp on the first tee at Royal Troon

Alena Sharp could have been forgiven for fearing the worst after her opening tee shot at Royal Troon on Thursday, but she bounced back superbly to claim the early clubhouse lead at the AIG Women’s Open.

Playing in the opening group alongside Dame Laura Davies and amateur Olivia Mehaffey, Sharp was greeted by gusting winds of up to 40mph when she began her round at 6:30am BST.

When the Canadian put her first shot out of bounds to the right, an error that led to a double-bogey, a long day looked to be in prospect.

However, Sharp dug in impressively and eventually posted a level-par 71 after birdieing four of the last eight holes, including the 16th and 18th. With birdies generally hard to come by in tough conditions, that score represented an excellent start.

Asked if she was thrilled with her performance, Sharp replied: “I am, because I hit my first shot out of bounds and made a double on the first hole and it's obviously not the way I wanted to start the day, but it actually woke me up a little bit.

“I started playing some good golf shots after that and made a few putts and just grinded my way (through).

“I seem to be one of those wind players later on in my career; I hated playing in the wind before, but now I really enjoy it. You just have to do your best to keep it in the short grass and make a lot of two-putts.”

Alena Sharp on the fifth hole at Royal Troon

Sharp was quick to recover from her poor tee shot at the first, as she parred the next two holes before finding birdies at the fourth and fifth.

“I was just like, okay, you need to wake up, start playing golf shots,” she added. “Don't be afraid of the wind. This is just like all the other rounds I've played in the wind. From there on, I was just in grind mode the rest of the day.

“It was very tricky, the first eight or nine holes the wind is off the right and then you turn and it goes off the left and it's down, so I had to change my game plan on the back nine a lot with tee shots, but I kept it in the fairway, which is very helpful and I played pretty well going downwind on the back nine.”

Sharp, whose grandmother was born in the Scottish town of Greenock, was delighted to be given the opportunity to play with an iconic figure in Davies, who made five birdies of her own to post an 80 after a difficult start.

“To have her hit the first shot in her 40th Women’s Open, it was amazing to be in that group,” said Sharp. “Yeah, it was a rough start, but she battled through like the champion she is.”