Brooke Henderson Embraces Familiar Territory
No matter where the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is played it seems like Brooke Henderson has the ability to contend.
While a late birdie by Lee-Anne Pace knocked Henderson off the top of the leaderboard, the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship winner is tied for second and just one shot back through 18 holes.
Henderson, who won the season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions on the LPGA Tour, shot a 4-under 67 to start the week. She’s tied with Xiyu Lin and Ruoning Yin for second.
“I love this event. I need more of this event,” Henderson said. “But I think it's really demanding on all parts of your game, and I think coming into the week I'm prepared for that, knowing that it's going to demand a lot.
“I'm not always able to execute, but most of the time in the past I have been able to, just knowing that it takes a lot of solid shots around the greens, getting up-and-down when you need to, making those birdie putts when you have those opportunities, and just trying to find as many fairways as you can.”
If there was one blemish to Henderson’s Thursday is that she hit only five fairways. She was able to scramble well, however, and managed to hit 14 of 18 greens. By her own admission, Henderson said she had been “close” on the LPGA Tour the last few weeks but just wasn’t able to produce any solid results – at least up to her own high standards.
“Today was good. I just need more of days like today. I haven't been far off all year. It may seem like I have been, but to me, it has felt very close,” Henderson said. “It is nice to get a good day in today, and just hopefully more of that over the next few days.”
Henderson started her day on the back nine and immediately got to red figures, making a birdie on the par-4 11th. She added another birdie on No. 16 after stuffing her tee shot to just a few feet. After making the turn Henderson added another birdie on the tricky par-4 1st (“A rare opportunity on that hole,” she said) from 12 feet away before closing out her day with two more birdies on Nos. 6 and 9 – the closing birdie coming from nearly 40 feet away.
“It is a really tricky golf course, so it is nice to get a round in solid and under par,” Henderson said. “I feel like you've just got to take it shot by shot and just kind of play your way around this course and try to be smart and aggressive when you can.”
Henderson is hoping to stick to her aggressive game plan through the balance of the week and she’s in the perfect position to make some more noise at the major she’s had the most consistent success.
“It really takes a lot both mentally and physically, these events, but I think it's just the energy that this event brings every year is what makes me really excited,” Henderson said. “The great venues and the increase in purse sizes and there's more television coverage, too, so there's a lot of great things going for this event, and it's nice that I've been able to play well.”
Good vibes are certainly equaling good play for the Canadian.