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CANADIAN CHARGE — Henderson up by 1 at Annika

‘It was a long one and definitely glad to hit the hole because it was cruising.’

CANADIAN star Brooke Henderson has birdie opportunities in each and every hole all Thursday, making nine of them in total. | Photograph courtesy of LPGA

MIAMI (AFP) — Canada’s Brooke Henderson birdied six of her last nine holes to grab a one-stroke lead when darkness halted first-round play on Thursday at The Annika tournament.

Henderson, seeking her 14th career LPGA title, fired an eight-under par 62 with nine birdies against a lone bogey at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Florida.

“Felt really great to be making a lot of birdie putts,” Henderson said. “Nice to see the ball go in the hole. And especially on my back nine, actually the front nine, made a lot of birdies coming in.”

“It’s fun. I feel like my game has been trending in the right direction for a while now and nice to see a good day happen.”

It left Henderson one stroke ahead of South Korean Ko Jin-young, Japan’s Minami Katsu, Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit and Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen.

Henderson won her only LPGA title of the year at January’s Tournament of Champions but was runner-up at the Evian Championship in defending her major title and made an early charge in the season’s penultimate event, reaching all 18 greens in regulation.

“It feels amazing not to have to get up and down and give myself a lot of birdie opportunities,” Henderson said.

The 26-year-old Canadian began her round on the back nine and reeled off three consecutive birdies starting at the par-3 12th but took her lone bogey of the round at 18.

Henderson responded with birdies at the first and par-3 third holes, then unleashed another three-birdie run ending at the par-5 seventh and closed with a birdie at the par-3 ninth to claim the lead alone.

“Bonus to get the one on nine,” said Henderson. “It was a long one and definitely glad to hit the hole because it was cruising.”

Pedersen, a five-time Ladies European Tour winner who helped Europe keep the Solheim Cup in September, seeks her first LPGA triumph. She had seven birdies, two bogeys and an eagle at the par-4 eighth.

World No. 4 Ko closed the front nine with three birdies in a row, made three more in a row starting at 11 and added another at 17.

“I played really well. It has been a while to play really good for this year, so I’m really happy with it,” Ko said.

Ko has won 15 LPGA titles, including this year’s Founders Cup and HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore. Patty fired her low round of the year as she chases her second LPGA win, the first major at the 2021 ANA Inspiration.

American Nelly Korda, the reigning Olympic champion seeking her third consecutive victory in this event, opened with a 67.


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