When Brooke Henderson made the cut on the number on Friday at the CP Women’s Open, it was as if a weight had been taken off her shoulders with all the partisan fans lining the fairways she walked at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club.
“Miracles do happen. I think that is probably a little bit outside of my range, but I can still climb the leaderboard. I can still try to get my best finish ever at the Canadian Open, which was last year – that’s probably my main goal going into (Saturday),” said Henderson at the time.
She met and exceeded those expectations, firing a bogey-free course record of eight-under 63 that left her at seven under, one shot off the lead when she walked off the golf course to the cheers of the hometown crowd.
By the end of the day, Henderson was in a six-way tie for sixth, three shots off the lead held by Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen, who shot a 66, and American Mo Martin, who finished with a 67. Both are at 10 under.
In Gee Chun of South Korea is one shot back in solo third, with American Cristie Kerr and Mirim Lee of South Korea tied for fourth at eight under.
“Maybe that miracle will happen,” said Henderson afterwards.
“Today was great. I felt pretty good right from the start. I was a little shaky on No. 1, but made par, got two birdies right away on two and three. I felt really good today. I felt like I could make something happen and I made putts that I didn’t even know I could make and I made shots that were just great,” she said.
“To have these fans out here supporting me the whole way and cheering for me. The biggest crowds I’ve ever played in front of and I know they’re all out here for me, so that makes it even more special,” said Henderson, who will defend another title next week at the Cambia Portland Classic, a tournament she’s won the past two years.
“Having the cut out of the way kind of gave me a little bit of a scare (Friday), being so close and almost not even playing the weekend, so I knew I had to get going. (Saturday) is moving day, so … I moved, that’s for sure,” she added.
Her transition from struggling on the greens during a disappointing first round 74 to barely making the cut to soaring up the leaderboard is a testament to her focus with all the attention being showered upon her.
If she is to become the first Canadian since Jocelyne Bourassa in 1973 to win an LPGA event on home soil and move into second place by herself for all-time LPGA wins by a Canadian, Henderson will need a similar performance to Saturday’s.
“I know I have to play my own game and I kind of learned that after the first round. I was a little bit shaky and I kind of let them get in my way a little bit, but I love big crowds,” said Henderson.
“I love when I’m playing well and I can kind of ride with them and have their support with me, so going into (Sunday), I’m going to do everything I do, just like every other week on the LPGA Tour and just hopefully things go my way,” she said.
Brittany Marchand of Orangeville, Ont., the only other Canadian playing the weekend, shot a one-over 72 and is tied for 45th at one under.
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