Naples, Florida – It was quite a Thursday for Brooke Henderson. Not only did she play well in the opening round of the CME Group Tour Championship but she was also honoured at the annual Rolex LPGA Awards.
First off came her 11:18 am tee time which she turned into a round of 68 at Tiburon Resort in Naples, Florida. The four-under-par total was enough to put her in a share of 5th place as she and 59 other LPGA players chase the record $1.5 million winning prize that will be awarded on Sunday.
The tally, which included six birdies against two bogies, has her just three strokes off the lead held by Sei Young Kim. Henderson is chasing her 3rd win of the year which would be a high watermark for her. She has won two tournaments a year since 2016 and has nine LPGA wins in total on her resume.
Although she was one over par early after a bogey on the second hole, the Canadian turned things around quickly.
“I felt like I hit it really well overall and gave myself a lot of good looks at making birdie, which is really nice,” Henderson commented on the day.
“I felt like maybe not all the putts were dropping, but when Jin Young is missing putts you know just sometimes they just don’t go in.”
That said, her outlook is positive with 54 holes left on the schedule.
“Hopefully just continue to hit it well, put myself in good positions, and make more birdies.”
At the same she was content with her start, with the leader well in reach.
“Yeah, no, it’s good. I saw Sei Young at minus 7, which is a good score today. The wind was kind of hard to judge at times, but I think once you get on a roll you can make a lot of birdies out here, so hopefully just keep hitting it well.”
The Founders Award
The day had more in store for the 22 year-old as she was given a tremendous nod from her peers at the evening’s Rolex LPGA Awards.
Henderson was presented with the Founders Award, which recognizes the player who exemplifies the spirit and values of the LPGA Tour.
She becomes the third Canadian to earn this important honour. Lorie Kane (2000) and Gail Graham (2002) both did so when it was known as the William and Mousie Powell Award. It was first presented in 1986 when the great Kathy Whitworth was the initial honouree.
Understandably, Brooke was delighted by the honour. She commented on the recognition, “I’m truly honoured to win this award. It’s really cool, especially coming from my peers, the girls that I play with and travel with, you know, every single day pretty much all year. It just really means a lot. I wasn’t expecting it. When I saw it on the sheet during the players meeting, that I was one of the nominees, I sort of panicked for a minute, but I am just really happy.”
When complimented on extolling the values of the LPGA TOUR, Brooke was clearly humbled and noted, “I always try to be as positive as I can. I am always working hard to be a better player but also to become a better person as well.”
Henderson tees off for round two of the CME Group Tour Championship at 10:39 a.m. on Friday.
Canada’s Alena Sharp is also playing in the championship. She opened with a one-under-par score of 71.