‘Ottawa’ Brooke Henderson Four Back After Opening Round of Manulife LPGA Classic
CAMBRIDGE, ONT. – A lot has changed since Brooke Henderson played in the Manulife LPGA Classic last year.
At the time she was still trying to get her tour card and get her first win.
Now, not only does she have her card, she is a major winner and the third-ranked player in the world to boot. She has become not only the face of Canadian golf, but one of the premier faces on the LPGA Tour.
But the one thing that hasn’t changed? She’s still looking for that elusive first LPGA win on home soil.
She couldn’t get it last week at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, where she finished T14 in Calgary, and whether it happens here at Whistle Bear Golf Club remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: the Smiths Falls, Ont., native certainly has her work cut out for her.
Henderson sits four strokes back of leader Chella Choi of South Korea and in a tie for 34th place after firing a two-under par 70 on the 6,613-yard, par-72 track during the first round of play.
Her day included four birdies and two bogeys, and when Henderson made the turn at three-under par it looked as though the 18-year-old star might make a run at the clubhouse leader who, at the time, was sitting at five-under par.
But it never came to be. And now, though, early in the game, Henderson faces an uphill battle.
“I started out really well, three under after the first nine and four under after 11 and I was feeling very confident and I knew I had a birdie hole coming up on 12. Unfortunately, I let that one slip away,” said Henderson.
“And then the wind really picked up on the back nine and it was kind of difficult.”
The weather conditions certainly played a role in the scoring on Thursday. Golfers that went out earlier in the day tended to post lower scores as the wind was not such a factor.
But by the time Henderson teed it up at 12:59 p.m., with world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and veteran Cristie Kerr, the wind was gusty and cool and clouds had rolled in. It was certainly different conditions than the players had experienced during their practice rounds.
“You could see all three of us not really playing the way we wanted just because of the wind and the conditions but to finish two under with an afternoon tee time in windy conditions, I’m happy. I’m just excited to get up (Friday), the conditions should be a little softer and not as much wind,” said Henderson who hits the course at 7:59 a.m. on Friday.
Henderson had said heading into the tournament that she was planning to attack the course a little more than she did last year when she missed the cut, which was set at an LPGA-record four-under par (she came in at three under), but had to change her strategy due to the weather.
“The wind and it was a little bit firmer than I was expecting too,” she said as reasons to change her approach. “So I tried to play smart and on a couple of holes I was able to attack the pin and was able to make birdie or have an opportunity. But some holes, just hit it to the middle of the green and take your par.”
Henderson started out strong with a birdie on the par-4, 410-yard opening hole after she hit her tee shot up the middle and then sank an eight-footer for the birdie. She followed that up by carding birdies on the two par-5s on the front nine, the third and ninth holes, and seemed to be rolling with a birdie at 11. But bogeys at holes 13 and 16, a par-5, derailed her momentum.
And letting that birdie slip away at the 469-yard, par-5 12th hole where she was putting from just off the green didn’t help her cause any.
“I was trying to have the ball jump over the first cut a little bit and it just ran right through it. But I looked at it and said ’10 feet for birdie, I’m still happy.’ And then the next couple of holes weren’t really my best and I was kind of fighting myself coming in. But, like I said, two under, first round, it’s a solid start.”
It is a solid start, but she’ll have to be more than solid on Friday to keep herself in contention.
ROUGH FINISH FOR MOZO
Belen Mozo came oh-so-close to being the leader after the first round of the Manulife LPGA Classic on Thursday, but a disastrous 18th hole handed the lead to South Korean golfer Chella Choi.
Mozo had been motoring along with seven birdies and no blemishes before calamity struck.
The Spaniard hit her drive into the long rough on the 431-yard par-4. She then tried to hack her next shot on to the fairway, but it only went about 20 yards and remained in the rough. Her next shot went into a fairway bunker, and from there she went into another bunker short of the green. Her fifth shot wound up on the fringe of the green. She chipped from there and one-putted.
It all added up to a triple-bogey seven and falling from first place into a tie for sixth with a four-under total. Had she parred the hole, it would have been her lowest score on the LPGA Tour.
Choi, meanwhile, had seven birdies and one bogey for a six-under total and the lead.
Four players, including 2012 champion Brittany Lang, are a stroke back at five under while 11 players, including Mozo, are at four under.