Sharp play leads to victory at Visit Mesa Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club

Canadian native and current Arizona resident, Alena Sharp, made the best of her detour to the desert by posting three solid rounds (67-66-71 – 204) on her way to a 12-under-par victory at the second-annual Visit Mesa Gateway Classic contested at Longbow Golf Club, February 21-23, 2014.

After the first day, Sharp shared the top of a crowded leaderboard with five competitors including a trio of Big Breakers Sara Brown, Sadena Parks and Mallory Blackwelder. She then followed her first round with a 6-under 66 in round two. The 32-year-old, who finished second last year, made a handful of birdies early and late in her round to move to 11-under after 36 holes.

“I started off with two birdies and I only had one bad swing all day and made a double,” said Sharp. “I just played really consistent, hit a lot of greens and started rolling putts in on the back nine and just felt really calm and relaxed.”

Her “chill” attitude, no doubt, helped Sharp maintain the even keel that allowed her to pull away from the pack by three strokes heading into the final round.  

Sharp came back to the field in the final round after posting three consecutive bogeys on the front side. She recovered before the turn, however, with two birdies in a row that moved her back to 11-under-par, three shots in front of the nearest competitor.

“It was a little bit of a grind today, but I used my mental toughness and training to get through it and I’m happy that I’m holding the trophy,” said Sharp.

In the end, Sharp finished at 12-under, two strokes clear of Marissa Steen and three strokes ahead of four others. For her efforts, Sharp earned $15,000 in prize money as well as an exemption into the upcoming LPGA Founder’s Cup, which takes place March 20-23, 2014 at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix, AZ.

Local player, Becca Huffer, wins the Cinderella-story award. Thanks to title sponsor, Visit Mesa, this player-service assistant at Longbow got a chance to compete on her home track, and she certainly made the most of it. Huffer started the second round at 2-under par and made four birdies on the front nine to vault from T13 into fourth place, six strokes off the lead. In the end she finished tied for third place, three strokes behind Sharp, with an incredible experience and a $5,000 check in her back pocket.