Canadian Brooke Henderson opened up a four-shot lead in the LPGA season-opening Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf Club in Orlando after shooting a 6-under-par round of 66 with no bogeys on Friday.
Henderson leads American Nelly Korda, who shot a three-under-par 69 just hours after her younger brother, tennis player, Sebastian, enjoyed a three-set upset victory over Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open.
After shooting a first-round 5-under par, Henderson wasted no time building on his positive start and making four straight birdies from the second hole onward.
Birdies on the 12th and 15th ensured that she ended the day comfortably at the top of the leaderboard.
“It was a lot of fun to make four straight birdies on the front nine. It really kept the momentum going. Finishing the back nine with two birdies felt great too,” said Henderson, who had played 10-time Grand Slam winner Annika. Sorenstam and former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz, both playing in the celebrity tournament.
“It was a really exciting day. Getting the chance to play with Annika and John again was really cool. I think everyone on tour admired Annika, so getting the chance to play with her, the same band, was great.” very special,” Henderson said.
Sweden’s Sorenstam, who retired in 2008 after winning 90 tournaments as a professional, was impressed with what she had seen up close of Henderson, particularly the Canadian’s long swing.
“I know he has this little drop kick, but he hits it around there. He gets good distance, good carry.
“A lot of times when we look at people and people say, hey, give me some swing advice, if she wasn’t a pro we’d probably say to someone, hey, shorten your swing a little bit,” he said.
“But someone like that, you just don’t want to touch it. She has a good feel and a good touch and she hits it very far, so it works perfectly for her,” he said.
Korda was disappointed with her performance even with a positive score.
“I was actually a little frustrated with my round today. I don’t think I was hitting or putting that well, especially up front. I had a lot of chances,” she said.
“I’m going to go to the green and figure it out. Overall, even if I didn’t have my A game, I still shot 3-under and I’m happy with that,” she said.
Korda had said on Thursday that he would not get up in the middle of the night to see his brother, but he was able to capture the final stages of his stunning victory.
“I saw him win at a dinner, so that was great. I actually woke up 30 minutes before the alarm went off, naturally knowing he was playing.”
“Honestly, he’s put in a lot of effort. He’s got an incredible support system behind him, and it’s really cool and special to see him do what he’s doing. Hopefully he can continue this career,” he said.
Korda’s Czech father, Petr, won the Australian Open in 1998 and his mother, Regina, was also a professional tennis player.
Completing the sporting family, her older sister Jessica also plays on the LPGA Tour.