Her first round 71 could hardly be deemed a disaster, but on a soft golf course that’s serving up plenty of low numbers, Brooke Henderson knew she needed to put an exclamation mark behind her second round number on Friday at the Manulife LPGA Classic in Cambridge, Ont.
Starting the day in a tie for 56th, Henderson vaulted up the leaderboard, courtesy of a five-under 67 and is now tied for 24th.
“I played really well (Thursday). I hit a lot great shots, I just didn’t make any putts and my energy kind of dropped a little bit,” said Henderson.
“(On Friday), I was able to get a few tap-in birdies that were only at three or four feet and that gave me a lot of confidence. I felt like I could make any putt out there,” she added.
“I rubbed even more edges today, so it could have been a lower score, but I’m really happy with five under. Hopefully, on the weekend, I can climb up a little bit more,” she said.
The round got off to a bit of a shaky start with a bogey on the second hole, but regrouped and got her first birdie on four, the first of six she would accumulate by the 12th hole.
“I definitely beared down after that (bogey). It was just playing really tough. I think Shanshan (playing partner Feng) bogeyed it as well, just a tough hole today that early in the morning,” said Henderson.
“I knew I needed to kick it into gear or it could be a rough weekend,” she added.
Putts dropping, higher energy level and the 67 itself were reminiscent of the Brooke Henderson of last year, when she had two wins, one a successful title defence in Portland and one a major at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, and 15 top-10 finishes.
The challenge of a performance such as that in her first full year on the LPGA Tour is that it sets the bar high in terms of expectations and it’s easy to overlook the fact that she’s 19. Henderson admits that she didn’t take her first round performance well.
“That’s the learning curve and I’m still working on that. I still take them pretty tough sometimes, but coming back with a day like today is really important and teaching me that it’s only one round – the cut is two rounds and the tournaments is four,” she said.
“It’s not the end of the world when you make a mistake on the first day,” she added.
“(Thursday) night I talked to my dad (Dave) who’s also my coach, and my sister (and caddie Brittany) and they said that I hit it great,” said Henderson.
“That gave me a lot of confidence. Like I said, having those three-or-four-footers that I knew I had to make and when I made them, it put a smile to my face and made me aware that I could have possibly a minus seven round, which was kind of what I was chasing after,” she said.