Hen­der­son two off pace at fi­nal ma­jor

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - SPORTS - GRA­HAM DUN­BAR

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE Canada’s Brooke Hen­der­son is two strokes off the lead at the half­way mark of the Evian Cham­pi­onship, the fi­nal ma­jor tour­na­ment of the LPGA Tour sea­son.

The 21-year-old na­tive of Smiths Falls, Ont., is tied for sixth at 6-un­der af­ter a 2-un­der 69 on Fri­day. She’s two strokes be­hind lead­ers Maria Tor­res of Puerto Rico, Mi Hyang Lee of South Korea and Amer­i­cans Mo Martin and Amy Ol­son.

Af­ter two birdies in a row on Nos. 4 and 5, Hen­der­son had a bo­gey at No. 6 and a dou­ble bo­gey at No. 7. But she bounced back on the back nine with four birdies and one bo­gey.

“I feel like my game is in a re­ally good spot,” Hen­der­son said. “To be able to re­bound like that men­tally I think is re­ally key. On this golf course you’ve got to stay pa­tient, and I feel like we were able to do that, even though it’s very dif­fi­cult at times. I’m re­ally ex­cited for the next few days, so we’ll just see what hap­pens.”

Tour rookie Tor­res, the first Puerto Ri­can to earn an LPGA card, shot a 2-un­der 69 be­fore Ol­son (65), Martin (66) and Lee (66) matched her 8-un­der 134 to­tal.

“It’s some­thing new and it’s ex­cit­ing (to lead),” said the 23-yearold Tor­res, who is ranked No. 184 in the world.

She missed the cut at 10-over in her only pre­vi­ous ma­jor, the Women’s PGA Cham­pi­onship, won in July by world No. 1 Sung Hyun Park, who will not be play­ing on the week­end.

Park (71) started and fin­ished play Fri­day at 6-over at the sun­soaked Evian Re­sort Golf Club and missed the cut by three shots.

Two other Cana­di­ans did make the cut — Alena Sharp of Hamil­ton (68), who is at 1-un­der, and Brit­tany Marc­hand of Orangeville, Ont. (71), at 3-over.

Ol­son had seven birdies and se­cured a share of the lead with an 18-foot par-sav­ing putt on the 18th hole.

“That was huge,” said the 26-year-old North Dakota na­tive, whose ca­reer-best fin­ish in a ma­jor is tied for ninth at the ANA In­spi­ra­tion this sea­son.

“See­ing it drop, that’s a lot of con­fi­dence go­ing into to­mor­row.”

Mean­while, Lee made an ea­gle at her fi­nal hole, the par-5 ninth, to be the high­est ranked co-leader at No. 59.

The South Korean’s two ca­reer LPGA wins are more than the other three lead­ers com­bined, though Martin is a ma­jor cham­pi­onship win­ner, cap­tur­ing the 2014 Women’s Bri­tish Open.

One shot back, Car­lota Ci­ganda of Spain carded 70 to fol­low a round of 65 that only Tor­res equalled Thurs­day.

A seven-woman group on 6-un­der in­cluded Ge­or­gia Hall (68), last month’s Women’s Bri­tish Open cham­pion, plus former ma­jor win­ners Hen­der­son (69) and So Yeon Ryu (69).

Austin Ernst (70) is also two shots back, com­plet­ing her round min­utes be­fore hur­ri­cane Florence made land­fall close to her home state South Carolina.

“I’ve checked the weather app ev­ery day and talked to my fam­ily back home,” said the Seneca na­tive.

“It’s more flood­ing (risk) where I am. Let’s see what hap­pens.”

Amer­i­can am­a­teur Rachel Heck, who is only 16 years old, safely made the cut at her sec­ond ma­jor. A 73 got her to 1-over.

The top-ranked Amer­i­can, world No. 5 Lexi Thomp­son, was in tears on the 18th green and missed the cut by one stroke.

She swiped her club in frustration af­ter a scuffed chip that led to a bo­gey-5 and a round of 75. The 2014 ANA In­spi­ra­tion win­ner had also dropped a shot at the 17th.

Brooke Hen­der­son

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