She made the Cambia Portland Classic her first LPGA title in 2015 and now Brooke Henderson is doing her best to defend the title. By the time she left the golf course after an early first round tee time of the 2016 version on Thursday, she had the lead all to herself.
The 18 year-old Canadian posted an outstanding opening round of 65 at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club. The seven-under-par score included nine birdies. It puts her well on the way to the 21 under par total she used last year to win the title and prompt the invitation from Commissioner Mike Whan to join the tour on a full-time basis.
“It was good. It was a good day,” said the defending champ after completing play.
Starting on the back nine Henderson started the round with a birdie and made the turn at 3 under par, 33.
Feeling comfortable in the Pacific Northwest, in the more temperate climate, she settled in nicely and made a strong run coming to the clubhouse. “I like wearing long sleeves and pants,” noted the #2 ranked player in the world when asked about playing in the environment.
Whether the clothing, the temperature, or the tree-lined setting (or just plain skill), was assisting, Henderson made four birdies in a row on her back nine, on holes five through eight. She had just come off a bogey prior to the run and that prompted her to bear down a little.
“Yeah, I mean, think I came off a bogey and I knew I had two par-5s which were really gettable. I kind of put my focus on them and I was able to get them. Then long birdie putt on 8 that I’m very thankful for. Wasn’t really expecting it to go in, but I’m very happy.”
The 36 foot putt was reminiscent of those she sank a few weeks ago during her first major victory in nearby Washington State, at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Henderson feels it is no coincidence that both her wins have taken place so far in the Pacific Northwest.
“I love tree-lined courses, and that’s very much what this course is. And, again, with the bent grass, which is kind of what I grew up on. I just really like it. It suits my eye. Then winning here last year, that gives me those extra vibes and extra adrenaline which I think will help as the week goes on.”
Henderson had a two stroke lead as she left the golf course after round one. It’s not the eight-stroke margin she finished play with in the 2015 Cambia Portland Classic but with three rounds to play, it’s an awful good start.