LOS ANGELES: Defending champion and world number two Brooke Henderson fired a seven-under par 65 on Thursday (Friday in Manila) to seize a two-stroke lead after the first round of the LPGA Portland Classic.
The 18-year-old Canadian, who won last year’s event by eight strokes to become the third-youngest winner in tour history, made a solid start toward repeating as champion with nine birdies against two bogeys at the 6,476-yard Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland, Oregon.
“It was a good day,” she said. “I just really like it here. It suits my eye. Winning here last year, that gives me those extra vibes and extra adrenaline which I think will help as the week goes on.”
Henderson sits two strokes in front of Angela Stanford, Demi Runas and Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe.
Henderson began her round on the back nine with a birdie at the par-5 10th, answered a bogey at the par-3 13th with a birdie on 14 and then closed that side of the course with consecutive birdies.
“I started off with a birdie on the first hole and then nothing was really happening through the first five, just getting things rolling again and being out here,” she said.
Henderson, who won her first major title three weeks ago at the Women’s PGA Championship by downing top-ranked Lydia Ko in a playoff, birdied the par-3 second hole but took a bogey at the fourth only to respond by reeling off four birdies in a row, two on par-5 holes and the last a 36-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth.
“I was able to make four birdies coming in right in a row to put myself in a good position,” Henderson said, admitting she was bothered by the bogey at four.
“I came off a bogey and I knew I had two par-5s which were really gettable,” she added. “I kind of put my focus on them and I was able to get them. Then a long birdie putt on eight that I’m very thankful for. Wasn’t really expecting it to go in, but I’m very happy.”
Fond memories of her 2015 victory made the stroll around the course even happier.
“Just walking around I remember some of the shots I hit,” she said. “Some of the pin placements are kind of similar, so trying to think back to what the putts did and how they broke.”
“Yeah, a lot of great memories.”