NAPLES, Florida. Brooke Henderson had a front row seat in one of the rounds of the day at Thursday’s LPGA Tour Championship. It just wasn’t hers.
A native of Smiths Falls, Ontario. shot a 1-under 71 in the opening round of the season finals, seven shots behind leader Jeongeun Lee6.
Henderson was grouped with Minjee Lee, who shot 6-under 66 – including six birdies in a seven-hole course on the top nine.
“When you play with someone like that and play well, it’s great because you feed each other and keep each other going. But when those putts don’t fall for you and you see other people doing it, it’s a little more frustrating, ”Henderson, who ranks 10th in the world, told the star.
Indeed, the first day at Tiburon Golf Club was a microcosm of Henderson’s season. She hit 13 of 14 fairways and only missed two greens but needed 33 putts.
“Just annoying,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like I hit it really well and made myself look a lot, and sometimes not that good. It was just the right mix. “
Henderson made back-to-back birdies on the turn. But on the 17th par-5, after a bogey on 16, Henderson decided to give fairway metal a try. The shot landed in a bunker in front of the green. Three putts later, she notched another late bogey.
Jennifer Kupcho, Celine Boutier, Mina Harigae and Sei Young Kim – who won the 2019 Tour Championship – were all tied with 7 under points at the tournament, which also selected the golfer of the year.
Nelly Korda and defending champion Jin Young Ko each have four titles in 2021 and are neck and neck in the points race. Korda got the better of Thursday with a 6-under 66 after winning the Pelican Women’s Championship last week. Ko shot 2 under 70.
“I was just assigned,” said Korda, who was also an Olympic champion in Tokyo. “I think I just hit it really well. I gave myself some good looks, probably within 10 feet. Two oopsies with two three putts, but I think I hit most of the greens and got some really good looks. “
Henderson said most golfers made better use of the course setup than she did, which means she’ll likely be making changes to her schedule on Friday.
“I could be a little more aggressive,” she said, “since I’m pretty far behind and there’s nothing to lose.”
Henderson is paired with Danielle Kang in the second round.
Adam Stanley is an Ottawa-based contributor for Star’s sports division and the host of Next Round’s On Me golf podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @adam_stanley
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