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August 13, 2008

Alena Sharp


ASHLEY CUSHMAN: Alena, thanks for coming in and joining us today. I know this event is very special to you here in your home country. Talk about playing the CN Canadian Women's Open in Ottawa this week.
ALENA SHARP: Great to be here in Ottawa. It's amazing how fast the year goes by. Just seems like we were in Edmonton just a little while ago and it's already been a year.
The golf course is in great shape, and I really enjoy playing here. I think it sets up well for my game. Looking forward to tomorrow. I have a great pairing and great tee times for Thursday and Friday. I think it's going to be a good week.
ASHLEY CUSHMAN: Just talk a little bit more about your impressions of playing this course, what you think of it so far.
ALENA SHARP: I think it's a great golf course to play. The holes move very well and the rough is pretty thick, so it requires precision off the tee. The greens are undulating, so you need to make sure you hit it in the correct spot on the greens.
I feel like if you keep it in the right quadrant or if you're below the hole you're going to have great shots at making birdie on almost every green.
ASHLEY CUSHMAN: Questions for Alena.

Q. Last year, tied for 10th. Your best finish ever. Obviously raised the bar for you coming in. Now that you're coming in after last year, has it also raised the bar and expectations for you?
ALENA SHARP: I think so a little bit, but it's something that it's a good distraction. You just have to kind of not think about it. I just want to start tomorrow and play one hole at a time and get through the day not trying to just get through at even par, but just go out there and stay in the moment.
Because we have four rounds of golf to play and, you don't want to lose it on the first day, but you just want to stay in contention. I think that if I just play my game and stick to my game plan I'll be in good shape after tomorrow.

Q. What are some of the distractions you face?
ALENA SHARP: Everybody always says Canada is waiting for another Canadian winner, especially here this week. A lot of the marshals have said it already. Little things like that. I'm sure Mike Weir went through it a few weeks ago, and Lorie is going through it this week.
We just want a Canadian winner. It's going to happen at one point, so hopefully it's this week.

Q. Do you feel like you're the next Canadian? Is everyone looking to you to be the next Canadian?
ALENA SHARP: I think so. I'm 27 years old, it's my third year on tour, and every year has gotten a little bit better. I'm more consistent this year. Something's going to happen. I've been knocking at the door. My game is in great shape. I'm hoping that it's this week. If it's not, I know that something is going to happen this year that all this frustration that I've gone through on the putting green, it's going to equal to something great for me.

Q. Last question, just a couple weeks ago you were talking about your putting. Things coming together for you on the greens now?
ALENA SHARP: Yeah. Springfield and Toledo I putted so much better. I didn't putt so well at the British Open, but I like the greens here. They remind me of my home course. You have to be able to not be scared to play a lot of break, and I think it's going to be good for me.

Q. Can you talk about the distractions of being Canadian here? You are playing with Michelle Wie. Is that something that over time you learn how to adjust to crowds and different things going on depending on who you're playing within?
ALENA SHARP: Yeah, I think it's going to be great for Canadian golf the next couple days. When I saw my pairing, I thought, Well, my parents are going to be here and they're not going to see me much. I told them that last night on the phone. I said, If you want water you better come straight up to the ropes.
I played with Michelle before in South Carolina. She's playing better now, and I think that it's great for women's golf. The crowds are going to be pretty big out here in Ottawa tomorrow and Friday. I'm looking forward to.

Q. Do you have a Toronto Maple Leafs head cover?
ALENA SHARP: I do. I was waiting for that one to come up. Last year in Edmonton I got flack about it, so this year if I was going to say that if someone was willing to bring an Ottawa Senators head cover I'll put it on my bag for the week. So I guess if you want to put that out in the media.
ASHLEY CUSHMAN: You're going to have about 50 tomorrow now.

Q. There's a lot of talk of role models this week. Sort of a passing of the torch in Canada. Is that a role you're comfortable with? Do you wish there were a couple young stars to take that so you can concentrate on your game?
ALENA SHARP: I'm concentrating on my game no matter what. I'll gladly take the torch and hold it for Canada. That's something that you always look forward to when you start playing golf. You look up at -- when I was a junior, Dawn Coe was out here winning tournaments, and then Lorie came and had a great career. Now I feel like it's going to be my turn next, and I'm looking forward to that.

Q. Have you talked to them about what to do on the tour or that sort of thing? Do they give you advice? Do you kind of use their experience to help your career?
ALENA SHARP: I haven't really talked to them about that certain point. I know that Lorie is not really to give it up yet. She's still fighting through it. She hasn't done anything exceptional this year, and her good tournament is going to come. Maybe it's this week. She's been working hard her game and she's seen more success in the last few weeks.
I think that she's going to have a great tournament at some point this year just like she did last year. She always does. She's not really to quit yet and that's great.
It's good for Canadian golf that we're out there. We did well at the World Cup together this year. We were a great team. We finished sixth. We could have won that tournament.
Both of us are kind of struggling on the same thing: more on the greens. You're going to see our names up there. We have six or seven tournaments left, and you're going to see us up there on the leaderboard, I guarantee.

Q. I guess Michelle Wie has drawn a lot criticism. She gets lots of fans and crowds. Is the criticism fair or is it maybe too hard on her? Should we back off because she's only 18?
ALENA SHARP: I think she's a great kid. People don't realize that it's hard when your parents are with you all the time. She's going to be -- she's already a great player. She's going to be a really good player once she figures out what she needs to do for herself.
You saw how she played in Springfield. Everybody says, Well, it's a weaker field. Doesn't matter. She still shot 67 I think two of the three days. You have to play good golf to shoot that no matter what golf course you're on.
She's going to do something great, too. I really think that she's great for women's golf. She brings the fans out, and that's what the sponsors for the tournaments want to see.

Q. I have think tomorrow you're going to play with?
Maude-Aimee LeBlanc who is a member of the national team. Maybe what you can do now for players like that, return the favor that maybe you got from Dawn and Lorie. Just how you think the up-and-coming players are doing in the national program right now.
ALENA SHARP: I think a lot of them are doing very well. The RCGA has done a great job in giving these girls a great opportunity to play against the best players in the world. They're doing well in college golf and junior golf and amateur golf.
Anything that I can do to help them, I'm willing to talk to them or do whatever. I haven't been around them a lot. I just know a few of the names.
Yesterday when I was out on the range it was basically an all Canadian team hitting balls. You know, I know a few names, Stephanie Sherlock. She's doing some great things. I met her a few weeks ago. She did well at U.S. Amateur, so I think we have a good future coming up. The RCGA really helps with that.

Q. I just want to ask again what Dawn Coe-Jones did for women's golf in Canada?
ALENA SHARP: She's won I think is it five times? Three. She came out and she's been on tour for 25 years. I don't think that a Canadian has done that in a long time. She's just -- she has a great personality and she's -- she was Canadian golf before Lorie came around, so she is been around. It's sad to see that she's retiring, but she had a bad injury this year and it didn't heal probably.
I don't know if she's going to play much after this year anyway, but it's sad to see she's only going play in one or two tournaments because her foot is still sore.

Q. The general fan sees all the glory and they'll remember the tenth place finish. They see you playing the greatest golf courses in the world and think, Wow, this is the greatest place ever. I'm just wondering if you could talk about some of drudgery you experience from week to week and some of the expense and travel. What do you go through that they don't know about?
ALENA SHARP: I like traveling. But we started in January this year, Lorie and I, we started three weeks earlier this year. The three weeks earlier, like I feel like it's October already and it's only August. If you don't get enough rest you can get really tired mentally and physically. That's the only thing I feel like is the drawback.
Obviously when you go to different countries you have to try their food, and sometimes that's not a good thing. Players get sick because they're not used to the food. Those are the only two things that maybe drudge me down.
But I'm learning that I need to make sure that I get plenty of rest, especially for a week like this. Last week I had time at home and I had my charity tournament, and then after that I rested on the weekend. It was raining so it was easy to rest.
But I think yeah for me, resting and keeping in shape is what I need to be doing to play my best golf out here.

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