Canada's Brooke Henderson tied for lead at LPGA season-opener
21-year-old shoots 6-under in 1st round of Tournament of Champions
Canada's Brooke Henderson is tied for the lead after the opening round of the LPGA Tour's season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.
The 21-year-old native of Smiths Falls, Ont., carded a six-under 65 to put her on top along with Korean Eun-Hee Ji.
Henderson overcame a slow start with a bogey on the second hole and a par save on No. 3 at the Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons. She birdied five of her last eight holes for a 65 to tie Ji, who had a bogey-free round.
WATCH | Highlights of Brooke Henderson's round:
The tournament — the first season-opener in Florida for the LPGA since 2015 — is only for LPGA winners each of the last two years.
The event had the feel of a pro-am because of all the celebrities and athletes, although it wasn't all hits and giggles. Along with the 26-player field from the LPGA Tour competing for a US$1.2 million purse, 49 entertainers are competing for a $500,000 prize fund using the modified Stableford scoring system.
Tennis player Mardy Fish led that field with 39 points for a two-point lead over a group that included retired pitcher Mark Mulder.
But it was a different vibe from most LPGA events.
"I had to remind myself it wasn't Wednesday afternoon, it was Thursday, and I had to get a good score together," said Henderson, who was in a group with former NBA star Ray Allen. "I think that's when things kicked in on the front nine. I started getting a couple of birdies to recover from that bogey, and then from there I was ready to go and made a lot of birdies."
The leaders are one stroke ahead of Lydia Ko of New Zealand and American Stacy Lewis, who was playing her first tournament since giving birth to her first child last year.
Nearly three months after Lewis became a mother, and six months after she last played on tour, she opened with seven birdies on Thursday.
"Pleasantly surprised," Lewis said. "Had pretty low expectations going into the day. Just really made a lot of putts. I had some weird shots, which I knew was going to happen having not played in a while. I don't know where it came from, but I'm going to take it."
Ariya Jutanugarn, the world's No. 1 player who captured every major award last year, opened with a 67. Shooting the same score were Lexi Thompson and Mirim Lee.
Henderson finished fourth on the LPGA money list last year after winning two events.