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Brooke Henderson goes wire-to-wire to win LPGA season opener

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ORLANDO, Florida — Brooke Henderson has a goal of winning multiple LPGA titles at the start of each season. She didn’t have to wait long to pick up her first 2023 trophy.

Henderson dominated the entire stretch and posted a 2-70 record at Nona Lake on Sunday to complete a sweeping victory in the season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions.

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Full Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions results

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In windy and sometimes difficult conditions, the 25-year-old Canadian played steadily, trying not to give big hopes to the group behind her trying to challenge. She started her day with a lead of three and ended up winning by a lead of four, finishing the tournament with a score of 16-272. It was her 13th LPGA win.

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“It’s so exciting,” Henderson said. “I always try to win a couple of times a year, so to get one right out of the gate, you need to take the pressure off a bit. … It’s fun to compete, but it’s even more fun to lift trophies.”

Henderson has long been eyeing the Tournament of Champions title. She hasn’t finished higher than ninth in the last four seasons and finished second to Danielle Kang a year ago. Sunday marked her 16th consecutive under par at the LPGA since 2022, and her 16th consecutive under par in this tournament.

The win also helps her end a disappointing end to 2022. She withdrew due to a back injury in her penultimate start at the Women’s Pelican Championship in November and managed enough pain to place seventh in the ending CME season. Group tour championship.

Highlights: Hilton Grand TOC Round 4

Highlights: Hilton Grand TOC Round 4

From there it was rest and rehab before moving on to new clubs. At Lake Nona, there were 14 new clubs in the bag, including a putter that helped produce 19 birdies in a very strong golf test.

Henderson started the week in 7th place in the women’s world rankings. She was asked if her season-opening triumph could open the door to other big goals, like being #1 or LPGA Player of the Year.

“That would be great,” Henderson said. “Obviously, I had the beginning of a dream.”

Second year LPGA pro Maja Stark of Sweden put in a solid finishing blow, scoring 5-31 in her last nine. She tied for second with Charlie Hull of England. Both hit 69, Hull doing it for the fourth day in a row.

Stark is committed to adding a few hours each week to her putting time, and this has shown in her ardent play on the final nine holes. From three to seven, she has hit six of her last 10 holes.

“It gives me confidence,” Stark said. “I feel like I had a good week with my driver and good irons. The staging too. I feel like if it keeps going like this, it could be a better year.”

Hull was pleased with her finish given the difficulties of preparing for the England game in the middle of winter. She spent three days training in Morocco before heading to Orlando.

Henderson was patient on Sunday, doing most of her damage on Lake Nona par 5, making birdies on three of them. When she hit the ninth hole, she had a four-shot lead over Nellie Korda and regained the lead again to four with a last shot on the 15th par-5.

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An iron game, the main pursuit of the brother does not let Nelly sleep.

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While Korda is still shaking off the rust, her younger brother Sebastian, an up-and-coming tennis talent, is working hard.

Korda, number 2, is the highest-ranked player in this winners-only field because #1 Lydia Ko missed the tournament after getting married, only made three birdies, and finished fourth for the second year in a row. For Korda, the week was a tale of two nines; in a week she played the first nine 1 under par, and the second nine 10 under par. Henderson was 10 under in the top nine.

“Yeah, we didn’t get along very well with the top nine,” said Korda, who scored 72 on Sunday. “Hopefully next year we’ll be best friends.”

Korda said she was disappointed with the result, but having played her first tournament with new equipment, at least she had a plan for the future.

“What’s good is that I have a lot of work to do and I’m very excited about it,” she said. “I have four weeks (no tour) to practice a bit and see where my game is.”

Tennis player and former Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish ran away with the All-Star Division, scoring 152 points in a modified Stableford format. Fish also won the title two years ago. Former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder (136 points) finished second.

Annika Sorenstam, a 72-time LPGA winner and Lake Nona resident of celebrities and athletes, tied for third with military veteran Chad Pfeiffer.


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