REGINA, Sask. – The second-round score was the same as the first but how Brooke Henderson arrived at it was somewhat different. The Canadian star posted another 66 and was just one shot back of the lead heading into the weekend.
As opposed Thursday’s first round which began with a three-putt bogey, Henderson chipped in on the opening hole to start Friday giving her a momentum-building birdie.
“That was definitely a nice way to start,” Henderson stated. “I only had 55 yards to the pin on the first hole, so I was a little disappointed with my second shot but to make birdie, I was really happy and it definitely gave me a lot of confidence during the day.”
With massive crowds at the Wascana Country Club following and cheering her every move, the 20-year-old added three more birdies over her next five holes before a three-putt bogey from above the pin on the 16th hole (her seventh of the day).
She closed things out by rolling in birdies from the fringe on six and seven, before one more on the par-5 ninth hole.
“I got there very differently but overall, I feel like I’m hitting the ball in great spots,” said Henderson. “And my putter is really bailing me out sometimes and it’s also making putts that I don’t make every single week.”
Henderson has a love-hate relationship with her putter, which is, more often than not, the key to the final tally on her scorecard. She’s rotated through a number of different ones this year, benching the blades that don’t perform and inserting those that show her some love. This week, she’s used her putter just 52 times on the green, ranking her fifth in the field.
She’s also benefited from some sharp iron play, usually one of her strengths, to hit approach shots close, leaving some short ones for birdies.
And just to add to the good fortune, Henderson played most of her round before the winds began to strengthen. She battled through some stiffening breezes over her final few holes, but the afternoon groups faced gusts of 35 kilometers an hour with which she didn’t have to contend.
While the size of the crowds in Regina may not be as large as those in Ottawa a year ago, they are no less vocal in their support for the six-time LPGA Tour winner. They’ve been lining fairways and greens, cheering on the Smiths Falls, Ont., product who is riding the wave of emotion.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Henderson said, “especially when you’re playing well. You love those cheers and you love it when you hit it, you love when you’re walking down the fairway and you hear your name and you know that they’re all there behind you. I would say it’s definitely a lot easier to play well in front of them when you’re playing really well, so hopefully I can keep it up.”
A year ago, Henderson had to make a birdie on her last hole just to make the cut. This time, she’s in a lot better condition, sitting just a shot off the lead held by Amy Yang. But she’s not yet ready to start contemplating what might be possible after two more rounds.
“I think it’s still pretty far away but it’s definitely exciting to be in this position,” she said, “and hopefully tomorrow I can post another good round and then re-evaluate heading into Sunday.”