REGINA, Sask. – About two-and-a-half hours from the site of this week’s CP Women’s Open is the small town of Humboldt, Saskatchewan.
But it’s going to feel a lot closer for Canadian Alena Sharp.
In early April a semi-trailer truck collided with a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team, killing 16 people and injuring 13 more, after the truck driver failed to yield at a flashing stop sign.
Sharp is honoring the victims of that crash this week with a golf bag painted in the green and yellow colors of the Broncos.
“For me, growing up playing hockey, I've been on a lot of busses going to hockey tournaments. I kind of have been there done that,” she said. “Just what happened just still makes me… it makes my skin crawl how this happened.”
The crashed caused an outpouring of support from public figures and celebrities – Canadians and non-Canadians alike – raising more than $15 million on a GoFundMe page, a record for the Canadian crowd-founding site.
Sharp has a family connection in Saskatchewan, as her aunt and cousins live in the province. She also once remembered taking a bus from her home in Hamilton, Ont. to Prince Edward Island (about 1,110 miles) for a hockey tournament, so she knows what it’s like to be on long bus rides like these young men were.
“It was unbelievable how it got world coverage… just a hockey team from Saskatchewan. You wouldn't think it would get that much coverage, but it did. It made me proud to be Canadian, even though it was a tragedy,” she said.
“It doesn't matter where we play, it just feels like your home town. I wanted to do something for the community, and I think giving back and being on this platform as an LPGA Tour player, it was just something I could do to help.”
Sharp’s caddie Sarah Bowman came up with the design idea for the bag and worked with her sponsor RBC to make it happen. The ‘e’ in Alena and the ‘h’ in Sharp on the bag are highlighted in yellow to make the ‘eh’ pop in the most Canadian of ways.
After the tournament Sharp will donate the bag to the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation, the official charity of this week’s CP Women’s Open.
Sharp’s career-best finish at the CP Women’s Open was in 2016 when she finished fourth. She comes into the week just over a month removed from taking to Twitter to say that she had experienced depression as the year chugged along, and she was struggling with her on-course performance.
But her admission prompted an outpouring of support from fellow LPGA Tour players.
“I feel like I'm more of a mentor to the Canadian girls out here. I've always told them: ‘You’ve got to have balance. Take time to yourself. It's not always all about golf,’” she said. “I feel like this year, because I haven't had the results, I've been grinding, grinding, grinding and haven't even listened to my own advice. So just really taking some time to just relax, catch up on sleep, watch some mindless shows just to really get set and get more into that competitive edge instead of just going through the motions.”
She says she’s feeling better these days and spent a holiday with Bowman in Whistler, B.C. She says she’s feeling recharged now, and this week in particular feels like one that’s got her re-motivated.
She comes to the CP Women’s Open off her best four-round stretch (score-wise) of the season. She finished at 8-under par at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.
“I just feel like my game is coming together nicely. You stick to the process and the results start to show,” she said. “I just keep believing that it's going to happen, and you just keep going one foot in front of the other and hope it's this week.”
But as far as supporting the community goes, Sharp has already won.