CAMBRIDGE, Ont. — Alena Sharp is counting on her two secret weapons to improve on her best-ever performance on the LPGA Tour — Chandler and Porter, her dogs.
Sharp, from Hamilton, was the low Canadian for the second consecutive round at the LPGA Manulife Classic on Friday, shooting a 2-under 70 on the day to tie for 12th at 5 under. Her performance after two rounds has her in a position to match last week's performance at the Canadian Women's Open, where she finished a career-best fourth.
"I have my dogs here this week," said Sharp, who describes the course at Whistle Bear Golf Club as being in her backyard. "It's always nice to come home and see them. They're always smiling no matter how I do, so it's always nice to have that little comfort."
With tournament leader Marina Alex at 10-under par after two rounds, Sharp is within striking distance for a win with two rounds left.
Sharp is staying in Cambridge, Ont., but stopped at her home in Hamilton to pick up the pair of goldendoodles. She usually takes them to a handful of tournaments every year, but the 2016 season has been tough to travel with pets because the LPGA Tour's schedule — including a stop in Rio di Janeiro for the Summer Olympics — have had Sharp criss-crossing the continent.
Chandler and Porter are part of a more calm and confident mental game Sharp's employed this year and sees her five shots back of leader Alex at the Manulife Classic. The 35 year old's new approach has led to her best-ever season.
"I'm not thinking as much, which is good, just being an athlete, playing the game and being smart with my decisions off the tee and read the greens well," said Sharp. "I think there's less thinking going on, just playing and really enjoying it, and really I'm not thinking about swing or anything like that.
"I'm just really into the target."
Maude-Aimee Leblanc (71) of Sherbrooke, Que., is tied for 22nd, while Anne Catherine Tanguay (71) of Quebec City and Olympian Brooke Henderson (71) of Smiths Falls, Ont., are in a group tied for 31st. All three made the 1-under cut.
"It's always good for Canadians to make the cut," said Sharp. "Not really thinking about being low Canadian. I want to do well, be in contention for the weekend, so I feel like I did a good job the last couple of days, and it's tough in the wind. So I was happy with how I hit it."
Amateur Maddie Szeryk (72) of London, Ont., and Calgary's Jennifer Ha (74) both finished at 1-over par. Amateur Josee Doyon (74) of St. Georges-de-Beauce, Que., was 2 over.
Jennifer Kirby (73) of Paris, Ont., and Charlottetown's Lorie Kane (78) finished at 4 over,
Vivian Tsui (5) of Markham, Ont., sat at 5 over, Samantha Richdale (77) of Kelowna, B.C., was 8 over, Nicole Vandermade (77) of Brantford, Ont., was 9 over and amateur Selena Costabile (78) of Thornhill, Ont., finished 15 over.
Leblanc was relieved to see the third round of play. Not only does it continue her trend up the leaderboard after a self-described terrible start to the season, it means that she gets to see friends and family planning on making the eight-hour trip in from her hometown in Quebec.
"I have friends and family that are coming tonight to watch me this weekend, so I was like, 'don't screw up!'" said Leblanc. "It's very important. I mean that's probably why I felt the nerves more this week than any other week really."
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