Aug 17 2016

After getting a look at the Olympic golf course, there's even more reason to believe Sports Illustrated's endorsement of Smiths Falls' Brooke Henderson as the gold medal winner in the women's competition.

The Gil Hanse-designed course proved to be a wonderful stage for the men's competition with the drama unfolding in three acts: a pretty easy opening, a tough middle and some holes that present the opportunity for a 3-2-3 finish and some fireworks.

The rough was negligible though there were some waste areas that presented some danger. It looked like a driver's golf course and if there's a club in Henderson's bag that can put her at the head of the field, it's the driver. She proved that at Sahalee Country Club where she fearlessly attacked through the towering trees to win her first major, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

That said, Henderson's game needs to be kicked up a couple of notches if she's going to contend over the four rounds which get underway Wednesday (Henderson is off at 8:14 ET Wednesday and 10:09 Thursday with Suzann Pettersen of Norway and Lexi Thompson of the USA. Hamilton's Alena Sharp tees off at 9:25 a.m Wednesday and 7:25 a.m. Thursday with Gaby Lopez of Mexico and Shanshan Feng of China).

Henderson, who's dropped a spot in the world rankings to third, hasn't been sharp since defending her title at the Cambia Portland Classic at the end of June. She finished 64th at the U.S. Open, T38 at the Marathon Classic and T50 at the Ricoh Women's British Open.

Perhaps some time off since the British will have helped.

Sharp, meanwhile, has been, well, sharp. The 35-year-old from Hamilton has been playing some of the best golf of her career the last few months.

Since missing two cuts in a row, here are her finishes: T22, T13, T8, T54, T21, T11 and T31.

She has moved up 117 spots in the world rankings in the past 12 months to 81.

The performances helped lock up her spot in Rio.

"I can't even put words to it, really. Representing your country is something I think every person loves to do. To be an Olympian, nobody is ever going to be able to take that away from me," Sharp told me at the Women's U.S. Open.

"I was thinking about it. I've played with a lot of people who are going to the Olympics and I'm building up my confidence that I can contend for a medal. Maybe at the beginning of the year I didn't think that. As the weeks have gone on and how I've played, I've been right there. I think I have a good shot at getting a medal and that's my goal."

Sharp has been working hard with coach Tristan Mullally, who's the coach of Canada's women's Olympic team, and benefiting from some reading which has helped her with the mental side of the game.

Sharp read "Positive Intelligence" and was starting into "Achievement Habits" at the U.S. Open.

"'Positive Intelligence' was good. It gives you keys how to shut out those bad voices and know that everybody has the bad voices. It's not just you," said Sharp. "It kind of gives you a little bit of peace of mind because it's not just you in that fight. Everybody is dealing with it. It gives you things to kind of shake it off, just being in the present, feeling your feet or maybe counting. I grab the club and I can feel the grip. I do it for three or four seconds. Deep breaths, just body awareness."

Sharp also recommended "Mind Set" and "The Big Leap."

Maybe the techniques will help her find her way to the podium in Rio.

If you would like more of these deep and meaningful insights, follow me on Twitter: @CJ_Stevenson



Brad Fritsch secures PGA Tour Card



We are confident one of our membership categories will allow you to enjoy a private golf club experience.



If you would like to arrange a time to come by for a tour, please click the button below to send an email to Steve Ducat, our General Manager