Henderson off to great start as she defends CP Open title

The 21-year-old sits one stroke back in field that includes 14 other Canadians

Brooke Henderson on 18 to finish up her first round. She would make birdie on her final hole of the day to put her at the clubhouse lead at 6-under. Annie Park leads after one round at 7 under. TYLER MULLIGAN /TORONTO OBSERVER

AURORA — Winning solves everything, at least for Brooke Henderson.

Henderson became the first Canadian to win the national women’s open last year since Jocelyne Bourassa in 1973, its inaugural appearance on the LPGA tour.

Dealing with the crowds in Saskatchewan allowed the 21-year-old to be more relaxed on Thursday at the Magna Golf Club, leading to a first-round, 6-under 66 that gave her the lead into the clubhouse at the CP Canadian Women’s Open.

Henderson would be surpassed by American Annie Park, who shot a 7-under 65 with an eagle, seven birdies and two-bogeys. The Canadian is tied with five others a stroke back, including another Anne-Catherine Tanguay, of Quebec.

“Last year’s tournament made me more comfortable in front of these crowds,” said Henderson, who teed off at 7:59 a.m. local time but had the galleries buzzing all morning at Magna Golf Club.

“Just knowing that I’ve won it before I think just relaxed me a little bit more.”

According to the Smiths Falls, ON native, her exceptional start must be credited to one particular club as well.

“My putter was really hot,” said the nine-time LPGA Tour winner. “On the second hole, that was sort of a testy five-six footer and it kept my round alive.

“To start the day like that was key and exciting—that feeling continued throughout the round.”

As 2018 saw Henderson end the 45-year drought for Canadian women’s golf, women’s tennis in Canada had its own curse come to a close with Bianca Andreescu winning the Rogers Cup just under two-weeks ago.

Andreescu became the first Canadian woman to win the country’s national tennis tournament since Faye Urban 50 years prior.

The parallels between the two have been discussed all week and Henderson looks to draw on the 19-year-old’s recent accomplishments.

“Watching Bianca compete was really inspiring for me,” said Henderson, who completed the first-round bogey-free. “I think it gave me a little bit of extra motivation and I think it’s doing the same for the whole country.

“It’s pretty cool time to be involved with Canadian sports I think.”

Henderson speaks to reporters following her first-round 6-under 66 that puts her in a tie for second with four others including fellow Canadian Anne-Catherine Tanguay.  (TYLER MULLIGAN/TORONTO OBSERVER )

Although Henderson has drawn inspiration from her fellow Canadians, she’s quickly assumed the role as a leader for the influx of Canadian golfers, as evident by the 15 competing this week.

Alena Sharp, who began her tour career on 2005, is one of them.  Even with a 17-year age gap between the two, their relationship has evolved from mentorship to friendship.

“I’m not shy to ask her about advice on things about a shot or something.” said Sharp, who shot a 1-over 73 Thursday.  “It’s blossomed into something great and it’s awesome to have that on tour.”

With five Canadians now full-time on the LPGA Tour, they naturally have decided to stick together.

“We’re all really close,” said Tanguay. “We play our practice rounds together. We go out to dinner. We really try to support each other in every way we can.”

Henderson, who is the youngest ever winner of the KPMG LPGA Tour Championship, tees off at 1:14 p.m. local time Friday looking to continue her success on home soil.

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Posted: Aug 22 2019 9:02 pm
Filed under: Golf Sports