Aggressive, Pain-Free Brooke Henderson Jumps Into Four-Stroke Lead In LPGA TOC;  Annika Sorenstam weighs in on her swing

Aggressive, Pain-Free Brooke Henderson Jumps Into Four-Stroke Lead In LPGA TOC; Annika Sorenstam weighs in on her swing

ORLANDO, Florida – Brooke Henderson began experiencing upper back pain at the Aramco Series event in New York last October. It was a slow buildup, she said, until the pain peaked for her at the Pelican Women’s Championship in November, where she withdrew after the first round.

At the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, she crafted a swing that got her through the tournament, and shortly afterward, she had her wisdom teeth extracted. Henderson, 25, thinks there might be a small connection between the two health problems, though her oral surgeon doesn’t seem to believe so. After some time away from everything, she began to strengthen her back and reports that she “feels great right now.”

She can go aggressive again with her new TaylorMade gear bag, and she likes what she sees. Playing alongside the legendary Annika Sorentam for the first time, Henderson shot a 66-under-par 66 Friday in the season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions and jumped out to a four-shot lead over Nelly Korda.

“I’ve said ‘nice shot’ many times,” said Sorenstam, who trails Mardy Fish by nine points in the celebrity division of the tournament, which uses a Stableford scoring format.

Henderson, the winningest Canadian golfer in history, got off to a blistering start, making four straight birdies to start her second round. She is 11 under par for the tournament. England’s Charley Hull and Wei-Ling Hsu are five shots behind at 6 under par. Defending champion Danielle Kang is seven away.

A longtime Ping player, Henderson switched to Team TaylorMade this season after using the TP5x golf ball last year.

“I feel like a lot of things have worked very well, especially the wedges,” he said. “It feels great to be able to feel aggressive, and they are holding up very well, which is something new for me.

“In the No. 2, I was able to spin back, which is also a great feeling.”

Last year, Henderson lost a lot of distance with her driver after the LPGA decided to implement the new USGA model local rule, which forced her to switch from a 48-inch driver to a 46-inch driver.

A 12-time LPGA winner, Henderson had used a 48-inch driver for her entire career on tour. Known for her aggressive style, her power and the way she chokes on her clubs, Henderson finished ninth on the tour in driving distance in 2021 with an average of 274 yards. Last year she dropped to 25th on the list, averaging 267 yards.

The new TaylorMade ball and Stealth 2 Plus 9-degree driver, she said, have helped her get some of that back.

2023 Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions

2023 Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions

Annika Sörenstam of Sweden watches her shot on the 18th hole during the second round of the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club on January 20, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Sorenstam was asked to weigh in on Henderson’s swing length after their first round together.

“I know he has this little kick,” Sorenstam said, “but he hits it out there. He gets good distance, good carry.

“A lot of times when we look at people, people say, ‘Hey, give me a swing tip.’ If I wasn’t a pro, we’d probably say to someone, ‘Hey, shorten your swing a bit.’ But someone like that, you just don’t want to touch him. She has good feel and a good touch, and she hits very far, so it works perfectly for her.”

Ready

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The story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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