Yuka Saso rallied with three birdies coming home to rescue a two-under-par 70 at the start of the LPGA’s season-opening Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf Club in Orlando, Florida Thursday.
The 20-year-old Filipino-Japanese reached the turn on 1-over after making one birdie against two bogeys at the back where she started.
But Saso birdied the two par-5 holes on 2 and 9 and gained another shot on 5 to get a share of seventh place, three shots behind pacesetting Brooke Henderson who fired a 67.
The field for the tournament is limited to winners on the LPGA Tour from the past two seasons and also features celebrity and amateur golfers, playing alongside the LPGA players, but in separate competitions.
The 25-year-old Henderson, who won the Evian Championship last season, was a stroke ahead of American Nelly Korda as she made an impressive start to the campaign after dealing with a back injury in the off-season.
The only blemish on Henderson’s scorecard was a bogey on the 17th but she quickly canceled that out with her sixth birdie of the round on the final hole.
Henderson, who announced on Wednesday that she had switched to Taylor Made equipment, was delighted to quickly settle into her form.
“I went through a lot of changes in the off-season but all the clubs worked really well today which is great and to shoot five-under to start the season off feels really good,” she said.
“To get off to a hot start is always a great feeling and hopefully I can keep it going over the next three days and maintain the momentum, you really need to go low here if the conditions are going to stay as nice as they are,” Henderson added.
Korda, who also had to deal with health issues last season, has joined Henderson in the same club switch and was pleased with the way she was able to perform with the new gear.
“When you are testing it is obviously very different to when you are playing. So this week I am taking it as a feeler thing, where I need to dial in a little more, and tweak some things.