Home Golf Brooke Henderson stalls but still leads by 3 in LPGA season opener

Brooke Henderson stalls but still leads by 3 in LPGA season opener


ORLANDO, Florida. Brooke Henderson went from being in complete control of her game in two days to having to score well on Saturday. The result was a 3rd place under 69 and a three-shot lead in the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions.

Henderson was ready to fight and moved up to 14 under 202 at the LPGA Tour season opener at Lake Nona. In the final round, the Canadian will be ahead of Nelly Korda (68) and Nasa Hataoka of Japan (66).

Maya Stark of Sweden (68) and Charlie Hull of England (69) are five behind.

Full Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions results

After a walking leg of golf at the start of her second nine, which included bogeys on par 12 – only her second ghost of the week – Henderson managed to slide in a 30-foot birdie curler on the left side of the 16th green. .

It was a huge bonus, bringing back a small dose of momentum after her game unexpectedly stalled after 2 1/2 rounds of hot play.

Henderson missed a short birdie putt on the 14th hole—a par 4 where the target was raised only 229 yards—and was unable to get up and down for a birdie on the reach par 5 hole 15, where her close shot trailed to the left of the guarded water green, but at least he was lucky enough to stay up. She did not take advantage of the break, agreeing to parity. Then came the unexpected slider at 16, which provided a nice and much-needed lift.

“That hit at 16 was a huge help,” said Henderson, who is chasing her 13th LPGA win. She won twice last season, including her second major, the Evian Championship in France, but ended the year with a sore back. “Things weren’t so smooth today, but hitting big like that at big moments definitely helps.”

Henderson started the day with a four-shot lead and had extended her lead to five by the time she made the turn. Then came the scarecrow at 12, and as Hataoka and Korda quickly approached the final holes, the tournament resumed again.

Henderson was ready to take on the challenge, actually accepting it. Having ended 2022 with an injury that required rest and rehab, and with 14 new clubs in her bag by the start of 2023, she is exactly where she wants to be on the first Sunday of the season.

“It’s a lot of fun to compete and get into the final groups on the weekend and right into the mix,” Henderson said. “It’s the best feeling there is.”

Hataoka, a six-time Tour winner, was the hottest player on the field on Saturday, birding on seven of her last 10 holes, hitting 30 and signing for 66, which left her in position to try and chase. Henderson on Sunday.

“Yes, I got a call,” Hataoka said. She said that when she birdied on par-5 ninth to get back to par-of-the-day, everything about her game changed. “So happy I could change that.”

Similarly, Korda, who was out for four months in early 2022 after having a blood clot removed from her left arm, took some time to get going. Her stick didn’t help much in the opening nine and wasn’t that good all week. All of a sudden, she ran off four birdies on five holes starting on the 11th to ensure that Henderson’s last round had to be solid to win.

Korda’s key for Sunday? First, she needs to start better. In all three rounds, she struggled to get into the top nine.

“I think you just need to find the bottom of the hole,” Korda said. – Here’s the key. I don’t know what the weather should be like, but they predict it will be quite windy, so I just hit a few consecutive hits and hit the cup.”

Retired tennis player Mardy Fish continued to dominate the 56 celebrity division, extending his lead in the modified Stableford points format to 14 points.

The most interesting race on Sunday in this division has to be for second place. Fish (117 points), the 2021 champion, opened a huge lead over military veteran Chad Pfeiffer (103), former NHL standout Jeremy Renick (103), and Lake Nona resident and LPGA great Annika Sorenstam (102).

Source: www.golfchannel.com