Brooke Hen­der­son opens 5-shot lead in US

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY NICK DASCHEL

Brooke Hen­der­son gave her­self some breath­ing room in her bid for a break­through vic­tory.

The 17- year- old Cana­dian opened a five-stroke lead Satur­day in the Cam­bia Port­land Clas­sic, shoot­ing a 7-un­der 65 at Columbia Edge­wa­ter.

“To get a good round to­gether and try and in­crease my lead, and def­i­nitely just hit good shots. I’m re­ally happy to get it to (18 un­der), and hope­fully to­mor­row just im­prove on that just a lit­tle bit,” Hen­der­son said.

She’s try­ing to join Ly­dia Ko and Lexi Thompson as the only play­ers to win an LPGA Tour ti­tle be­fore turn­ing 18.

On a warm, calm day, Hen­der­son made seven birdies in her bo­gey- free round. Hen­der­son, who turns 18 in Septem­ber, tied the tour­na­ment 54-hole record of 18-un­der 198 set by Yani Tseng in 2013. The five-stroke mar­gin is the largest third-round lead on the LPGA Tour this year.

Mor­gan Pres­sel was sec­ond af­ter a 65.

Hen­der­son, from Smiths Falls, On­tario, also had the 54-hole lead in April in Cal­i­for­nia in the Swing­ing Skirts LPGA Clas­sic. She closed with a 74 and ended up fin­ish­ing third. She’ll be bank­ing on that ex­pe­ri­ence Sun­day.

“Satur­day I wasn’t feel­ing the nerves, and then Sun­day I did. I’ll just have to be aware of that to­mor­row,” Hen­der­son said. “It was in­ter­est­ing in San Fran­cisco. I learned a lot about my­self and my game, and I think I’ve come leaps and bounds from there early in the sea­son.”

The Cana­dian won the Symetra Tour’s Four Winds In­vi­ta­tional in June in In­di­ana, and tied for fifth in the Women’s PGA Cham­pi­onship — the sec­ond of the LPGA Tour’s five ma­jors.

A win Sun­day would as­sure Hen­der­son of fin­ish­ing among the tour’s top 40 on the money list, giv­ing her an LPGA Tour card for next sea­son. Through nine LPGA Tour tour­na­ments, Hen­der­son has made US$466,818. LPGA Tour Com­mis­sioner Mike Whan de­nied Hen­der­son’s age pe­ti­tion last year, pre­vent­ing her from play­ing Q-school. She earned a spot in the Port­land Clas­sic field in Mon­day qual­i­fy­ing.

Hen­der­son is at­tempt­ing to be­come the sec­ond Mon­day qual­i­fier to win an LPGA Tour tour­na­ment. The only player to ac­com­plish the feat was Lau­rel Kean in the 2000 Rail Clas­sic.

Had it not been for Hen­der­son’s older sis­ter, Brit­tany, there’s a chance none of this hap­pens. Brit­tany re­ceived a spon­sor’s ex­emp­tion for the Port­land Clas­sic, and Brooke de­cided to take a chance on the Mon­day qual­i­fier af­ter run­ning out spon­sor’s ex­emp­tions.

She was asked if she would have tried to qual­ify with­out Brit­tany in the field.’

“I don’t know,” Hen­der­son said. “I think it was a bless­ing in dis­guise that she’s got the spon­sor’s in­vite and I came out here, be­cause it is a long way to travel from home, and I’m not sure I would have made the trip.”

Hen­der­son took a one-stroke lead over Mas­son into the day. Af­ter the two matched birdies at the par-4 first, Hen­der­son in­creased her lead to two strokes with a birdie at the par-3 sec­ond. Mas­son closed within a stroke with a birdie at the par-5 fifth, and both play­ers birdied the par-5 sev­enth.

AP

Brooke M. Hen­der­son, of Canada, hits out of a bunker on the fifth hole dur­ing the third round of the LPGA Cam­bia Port­land golf tour­na­ment in Port­land, Ore­gon, Satur­day, Aug. 15.

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