ORLANDO, FL (AP) — Brooke Henderson went from utterly 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 Match of Champions.
Henderson was able to battle 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 last 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 facet 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 didn’t up and down for birdie on the par fifteenth, as she was putt to the left of a water-protected inexperienced however not less than it was good. Fortunate to remain awake. She did not reap the benefits of the break, and settled for equality. Then got here the surprising slider on the 16, which offered a pleasant, a lot wanted elevate.
“Capturing quantity 16 was an enormous assist,” stated Henderson, who’s chasing her thirteenth PGA win. She received twice final season, together with her second main title, the Evian Championships in France, however ended the 12 months with a weak again. “It wasn’t totally clean right this moment, 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 shortly on the ultimate holes, the championship was again on once more.
Henderson was as much as the problem, and accepted it, in actual fact. Having completed 2022 slowed by an damage that required relaxation and rehabilitation, and carrying 14 new golf equipment within the bag to begin 2023, she’s proper the place she needs to be on the primary Sunday of the season.
“It is a lot enjoyable to be within the competitors and within the last teams on the finish of the week and to be within the combine,” Henderson stated. “That is the very 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 last ten holes, holeshot 30 and signing a 66 that put her in place to attempt to chase Henderson. Sunday.
“Sure, I’ve been contacted,” Hatooka stated. She stated that when she made a nine-year-old birdie climb to the identical stage again within the day, every part 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. All of a sudden 4 birdies ran in a five-hole stretch beginning the eleventh to substantiate that Henderson’s last spherical needed to be sturdy to prevail.
Corda’s key for Sunday? First, you have to get off to a greater begin. She struggled in all three rounds to birdie the lead 9.
“I feel you simply have to search out the underside of the opening,” Korda stated. “That is the important thing right here. I do not know what the climate’s purported 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 celeb 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).