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June 24, 2021

Alena Sharp

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Atlanta Athletic Club

Quick Quotes

Q. We're here with Alena Sharp with a nice 3-under 69. It was a nice up and down roller coaster kind of round. Started with three birdies, little ups and downs in the middle, but then closed with two. Overall, what are your big take-aways from today?

ALENA SHARP: It was a nice start. I was 4-under through five. It's been a tough season, and to start out well in a major is really important. No matter how you're playing in the year. To come to this one and have a good start and just kind of now I can chill a little bit and relax for tomorrow.

I've kind of been behind after round 1 having to play a really good Friday, so it's nice to have maybe a little bit more of a stress-free Friday coming up, which is nice.

Q. You put yourself in that situation, you said 4-under through five. I want to look at those closing two birdies. That's always a great way to close a round. If you could talk us through those last two holes.

ALENA SHARP: Had some tricky downhill putts. 17 I was hitting the ball so far. 17 was playing 143, and it's normally like an 8-iron and I hit 9-iron to the back of the green. Oh, boy, this is a tough putt, and I made it; I mean, 39 feet in the hole.

It's like, Okay, I'll take that at a major. And then on the last hole, I had another downhiller, but made a good stroke and it went in. Putting was pretty solid, which has been kind of not so solid all year. So it's nice to have a good solid putting day on some pretty tricky greens.

Q. I was actually going to ask you about that because your putting hasn't looked great, and suddenly it looked great. Has there been some change that you've made?

ALENA SHARP: I didn't get into match play and the U.S. Open, and my coach came down from Canada and we worked on my putting for like 12 days in a row. Hard-core, like putting in the time. We had to change something in my setup, and then just reps and reps and reps.

Now, as I'm out here practicing these last few tournaments, I'm continuing to challenge myself on the putting green instead of just putting around. I'm actually keeping track of my stats on the putting green, so when I get out to the course it will be like, oh, I made 70 of these putts this week.

That's been the big change. I think gaining a little bit more confidence, too. I think putting is all about feel and confidence and I didn't have either, but now they're slowly coming back.

Q. Was the setup thing to help you see the line better?

ALENA SHARP: I was really aiming left. I was aiming left quite a bit, and I got away with it on the left to rights, but on the right to lefts I was missing them low.

It's like I've played golf for 16 years and I just -- I knew I was missing them low. I thought I was aiming high enough but my feet were aimed left. He said, basically, it's really hard for you to make a putt the way you're set up. That was kind of nice to fix the setup and then actually roll some good putts on the practice green.

Q. Hey, Alena, amazing start. That was great to see. I was just wondering, how do you navigate sort of mentally the hot start, the three birdies in a row, and then you give the birdies back with the bogeys in the middle of the round and still know that you have to finish strong. How did you mentally keep it together out there today?

ALENA SHARP: Well, I could feel myself getting too much into the future, so I took some deep breaths. I'm working with a new sports psych, two of them actually, and just got to be grounded. I just used my senses. I listened to the birds and the wind and really could feel the ground under my feet.

I also talked to Sarah about it. I said, I'm getting nervous. I haven't been in this position in a long time. So that was really helpful just to kind of stay present, and that's one of my big keys the rest of the year is be committed to every shot and be present.

Q. When did you start working with the two new sports psychologists?

ALENA SHARP: The one I started -- both of them in April, actually.

Q. Why do you think it's hard to admit, even to Sarah, I'm nervous? That would seem to us to be a completely rational reaction, but I think it's hard for you guys to admit that sometimes.

ALENA SHARP: I think we maybe -- sometimes we avoid saying the obvious thinking we're going to get over it, but I think I've learned over this year, because it's been a struggle, that it's better for me to say that I'm nervous and I'm not feeling great over the shot, so then if Sarah can help me, she can help me.

If not, I can get back to the present and just get it out. Instead of thinking over and over, getting it out kind of lets it out and then you can get on with it.

Q. Then do you feel like in a weird way your putting was an indirect result of the pandemic because your coach, you didn't have easy access to him because of travel restrictions and quarantine? So what could have been a fairly easy fix was drawn out?

ALENA SHARP: Potentially. I think there's a lot of -- I think, if I'm being completely honest and being out there, there's a lot of things that have led to this putting flaw or whatever, I've gone through it before. They call it the yips. I've experienced it, and I was feeling it a little bit last year and then I didn't really deal with it. I thought it would just go away.

I turned 40 in the pandemic and it's just like all this stuff, worrying about my car, like all these things add to anxiety. My anxiety was so high at ANA.

I played with Patty the first two rounds and I hit it just as well as here, but I had a lot of putts. I missed the --

Q. You looked in tears at points in those rounds.

ALENA SHARP: Yeah, my anxiety was so high. It's coming down. Today I could tell it was going up again. I was in that position. My mental coach said it rears its ugly head when you're in the heat of the battle, and it's important.

That was tough today dealing with that, but I battled through. I have a lot of tools to get through it. But accepting it's going to be that way in the back of my mind, but I have the tools to beat it.

As long as I stay in the present and not focus so much on the future, it's manageable.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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