ORLANDO, FL (AP) — Brooke Henderson went from fully controlling her recreation for 2 days to having to attain an honest rating on Saturday. The rating was 3-under 69 and a 3-under lead within the Hilton Grand Holidays Event of Champions.
Henderson was able to combat and moved to 14-under 202 within the LPGA Tour season opener in Lake Nona. The Canadian will lead by three pictures over Nelly Korda (68) and Japan’s Nasa Hatoka (66) within the remaining spherical.
Sweden’s Maya Stark (68) and England’s Charlie Corridor (69) are 5 years behind.
After a pedestrian stretch of golf early on her second ninth that included a bogey on the 14th — her second bogey of the week — Henderson was capable of slide a 30-foot putt for birdie off the left aspect of the sixteenth inexperienced.
It was an enormous bonus, as she introduced again a small dose of momentum after her recreation got here to an abrupt halt after two and a half rounds of sizzling play.
Henderson missed a brief birdie putt on the 14th gap – a par 4 the place the tee had solely been pushed as much as 229 yards – and did not up and down for birdie on the par fifteenth, as she was putt to the left of a water-protected inexperienced however a minimum of it was good. Fortunate to remain awake. She did not benefit from the break, and settled for equality. Then got here the sudden slider on the 16, which offered a pleasant, a lot wanted raise.
“Capturing quantity 16 was an enormous assist,” mentioned Henderson, who’s chasing her thirteenth PGA win. She gained twice final season, together with her second main title, the Evian Championships in France, however ended the yr with a weak again. “It wasn’t solely clean in the present day, however massive pictures like that within the massive moments positively assist.”
Henderson began the day with a four-shot benefit and had prolonged the result in 5 by the point she made her flip. Then got here the bogey at 12, and with Hataoka and Korda closing rapidly on the ultimate holes, the championship was again on once more.
Henderson was as much as the problem, and accepted it, in truth. Having completed 2022 slowed by an damage that required relaxation and rehabilitation, and carrying 14 new golf equipment within the bag to start out 2023, she’s proper the place she desires to be on the primary Sunday of the season.
“It is a lot enjoyable to be within the competitors and within the remaining teams on the finish of the week and to be within the combine,” Henderson mentioned. “That is one of the best feeling there may be.”
A six-time winner on the tour, Hatoka was the most popular participant on the course, hitting birdies on seven of her remaining ten holes, holeshot 30 and signing a 66 that put her in place to try to chase Henderson. Sunday.
“Sure, I’ve been contacted,” Hatooka mentioned. She mentioned that when she made a nine-year-old birdie climb to the identical stage again within the day, the whole lot about her recreation modified. “So glad I used to be capable of change that.”
Equally, Korda, who was sidelined for 4 months in early 2022 after a blood clot was faraway from her left arm, has taken a while off. Her bat wasn’t very cooperative within the 9 openers, nor has it been all week. Instantly 4 birdies ran in a five-hole stretch beginning the eleventh to substantiate that Henderson’s remaining spherical needed to be robust to prevail.
Corda’s key for Sunday? First, you must get off to a greater begin. She struggled in all three rounds to birdie the lead 9.
“I believe you simply have to search out the underside of the opening,” Korda mentioned. “That is the important thing right here. I do not know what the climate’s presupposed to be like, however they anticipate it to be very windy, so simply hit some constant pictures and take the ball within the cup.”
Retired tennis participant Mardy Fish continued his domination of the 56-player movie star division, extending his lead in Stableford’s modified factors format to 14 factors.
Probably the most thrilling Sunday race on this part must be the second. The 2021 champ, Fish (117 factors), opened up an enormous lead over veteran Chad Pfeiffer (103), former NHL participant Jeremy Roenick (103) and Lake Nona resident and LPGA nice Anika Sorenstam (102).