By Chris Stevenson
RYE, N.Y. – There’s nothing like a 7-wood from 204 yards that almost goes in the hole for an albatross to get your round in an LPGA major off to a good start.
That’s what Brooke Henderson did on the par-5 12th hole Thursday at the Westchester Country Club after starting her round on the back nine.
The 17-year-old from Smiths Falls saw the ball almost roll into the hole before finishing about three feet away.
She made the eagle putt and, with a birdie on her opening hole, was 3-under par after three holes and on her way to a 6-under 67, good for second place after the first round of the KPMG Women’s PGA.
“It was a tough lie because the ball was way above my feet and sort of at the same time sitting down a little bit, so I really went down after it,” said Henderson. “I had a little bit of a draw, which started from the middle of the green and curved towards the pin. I heard the crowd really go crazy which was awesome to hear, which means it was pretty close. I got up there and it was probably three feet from the hole for eagle and I was able to tap it in. That was really a big jump start to my day today and got me under par pretty quickly.”
Henderson was a machine off the tee, driving the ball great (and usually by her fellow competitors Natalie Gulbis and Cheyenne Woods). That set her up well (she hit 14 greens) and she had good looks on 14, 17 and 18 on her front and on the second hole to go with the eagle and five birdies she did make.
She faltered a bit on the way in, but got up and down on the seventh and eighth holes with a wonderful chip and then a great flop. She three putted from about 35 feet for her only bogey on the par-5 ninth.
Her short game has shown some progress.
“I think it’s a day-by-day thing,” she said. “Today I felt really comfortable with all parts of my game, especially around the green, the putter felt really good in my hands and I was able to make a few putts out there.
“I think over the last couple years, the short game has definitely been a major point where I’ve been trying to focus on and trying to get better because I noticed it wasn’t quite up to the same level as a lot of the best girls out here and I’m definitely trying to fix that. I think putting is something I can still work on and I’m continuing to do that.”
Henderson will be back at it for the second round Friday at 8:40 a.m.