Even as he was doing it, Steve Sharpe thought, I’ve got to be crazy. Nobody takes a swing lesson in the middle of a tournament and comes out with a win, right?
But Sharpe, who turns 67 later this week, couldn’t resist the opportunity to have Sean Hogan at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy at the Omni Orlando (Florida) Resort at ChampionsGate look over his swing. So after a first-round 74 at ChampionsGate for the Golfweek Senior POY Classic, Sharpe made an appointment with Hogan. The next day, he shot a 1-under 71 – one of only eight rounds under par all week in the tournament’s four divisions – and took the lead in the super senior division. He bookended that round with another 74 on Thursday and walked away with the division title. He was 3 over for 72 holes and four shots ahead of Doug Harris from Vero Beach, Florida.
“I wasn’t turning enough in my backswing,” Sharpe said. “I was kind of lifting it with my arms. I’ve been knowing it forever but I didn’t know how to fix it. I just put it right in play and it was shaky a couple holes but overall, my ballstriking really got a lot better there.”
Scores: Golfweek POY Classic
Sharpe drove home to Greensboro, North Carolina, the next day where he works in construction for P&S Grading LLC, after playing four January senior events. He won the Plantation Senior Invitational, was runner-up at the Gateway Senior Invitational, finished fifth at the Heron Creek Senior and won again at the POY Classic.
When work is slow in the winter, Sharpe likes to go south and load up on tournaments. He’ll play more local events and Carolinas Golf Association events the rest of the year.
Sharpe has made seven career U.S. Golf Association starts, most recently at the 2016 U.S. Senior Amateur. He played the U.S. Mid-Amateur twice and qualified for the U.S. Senior Open in 2007 and 2009.
Remarkably, Sharpe didn’t begin playing golf until he was 30. Once he started, he found that he loved the individual nature of the sport and loved to compete, so he started working more and more at his game.
“Keeps me busy,” he said.
Sharpe is still sorting out the nuances of competitive golf, notably the pressure that comes with the lead. Starting on the back nine in his final round, Sharpe birdied the first hole. Then he could feel that pressure closing in on him. He played Nos. 5-7 in 4 over, but birdied No. 8 to seal the deal.
“When I’m up around the lead, I just try to control myself,” he said. “I know I…