Shoots 64 – wins in playoff at the ShopRite LPGA Classic
Canada was the focal point of the golf world this weekend as the PGA Tour played the Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Toronto while Canada’s winningest player – LPGA star Brooke Henderson won for the first time this season on the Jersey shoreline. Playing some 30 minutes before the final group teed off, Henderson came out hot, with a birdie on the first hole – a 351 yard, Par 4. From there, she never looked back with birdies on holes 4 and 6, followed by an Eagle on the Par 5, 9th hole, going out in 32 strokes (-5 under).
Her second nine was just as impressive with birdies at the Par 4 – 12th hole and the Par 5 – 18th hole, for a final round score of 64, giving herself a bit of breathing room from the remainder of the field. She finished the tournament at 201 (-12 under). The score put her into the clubhouse as the early leader, a feat that she was not certain that she could achieve. “I actually thought I was too far back coming into today, and I just tried to go as low as I could and see what happened and here we are.”
Mounting a charge from as far back as Henderson did, made for some anxious moments as the leaders started to make their way to the back nine at the Seaview Bay Course. First was Nasa Hataoka, starting the day at -6 under, stringing together a bogey free score of 33 on the front nine to match Henderson at -10 under after 9 holes. A pair of bogeys on the 10th and 18th holes proved costly as she finished with a 68 and a tournament score of 204, 3-shots back of Henderson. Brittany Lincicome, playing in the group with Hataoka and Lindsey Weaver-Wright, matched Hataoka’s first nine score of 33. She went to the back nine at -9 under, then birdied the 12th hole to pull herself within 1 shot of Henderson before bogeys at the 14th and 17th holes derailed her charge.
That left Weaver-Wright. Starting the day at -6 under, she made the turn with a front nine score of 35 to get her to -8 under, but it was the back nine where she sizzled. She went on her own birdie spree, with birdies at the 13th, 15th and then the 17th and 18th holes to finish with a 65 putting her into the clubhouse at –12 under and co-leader with Henderson. Both players would watch the remaining two groups as they gave chase.
Of the 6-players chasing, only Lydia Ko was an established winner; the other contenders were all looking for their first win on the LPGA. A pair of bogeys in a 3-hole stretch took Lydia Ko out of the chase, birdies on the 17th and 18th holes were not enough. She would finish with a 67 and a total score of 203 (2-shots back of the co-leaders).
The only other player to cause some anxiety for the co-leaders was veteran player Jodi Ewart Shadoff. She overcame 2-bogeys on the 2nd and 7th holes with 4-birdies and an eagle to finish with a total score of 202 and 1-shot off of the co-leaders. Despite an eagle on the 18th hole, it was a case of “too little, too late” for Shadoff. Regardless, there were enough positive developments for her to be pleased. “I had birdie on 9. I had a couple birdies on the front. I played really steady today. Just a lot of par golf, couple (of) putts could have gone in here or there. I feel like I managed my emotions out there being in contention, and just a really good experiences going into the rest of the season.”
As the contenders failed to convert their chances, Henderson and Lindsey Weaver-Wright retreated back to the 18th tee box for the sudden death playoff. The 18th was a 507 yard Par-5 with the tees moved up on Sunday to entice players to gamble on whether to attempt the green in two shots instead of the customary three. On her approach, like she did 40 minutes earlier, Henderson played her second shot from 180 yards into the green, but this time, her shot was all over the flag, leaving her a short 4-foot putt for eagle. Weaver-Wright, also looking for her first win on tour, managed a two putt par, leaving Henderson with two-putts to win. She wasted no time, sinking her 4-foot putt for the eagle and the win.
For Weaver-Wright, it was her best finish in an LPGA event and with the playoff, was a new experience for her.
“I finished the last New Jersey tournament three weeks ago and was really unhappy. . .but I just came out here – I almost felt like a sense of calm coming out here, just like I didn’t get as frustrated as I typically do. I was jut like extremely calm out there the last three days. It’s kind of strange. Never felt like that before really. But, it was nice not to get so worked up. I hope it’s just the beginning.”
For Henderson, it seems that today’s win was a long time in coming with her last win coming at the Hugel Air LA Open last season.
“Yeah, when the wins are kind of far apart it does mean more when you get another victory. This one was I guess a little over a year, but feels like a long time when you’re used to winning a little bit more consistently.”
Both players head to Michigan for the Meijer LPGA Classic before heading to Bethesda, Maryland for the next major in women’s golf – the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club.