ORLANDO, Florida – Brooke Henderson enjoyed the first day of the new season on the LPGA Tour even more than the final weeks of the 2022 campaign.
His back is stronger than ever, and Henderson, who can sway unsteadily for the first time since last October, attacked the field at Lake Nona on Thursday, scoring six birdie’s to put a 67 card in the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament, which was below five par. Champions.
Henderson, who finished third at the CME Globe Race last year, started his round with three birds in his first eight holes. He added three more against a nine-back bogey to beat Nelly Korda in one hit.
“It’s always a good feeling to get off to a good start,” said Henderson, who won two tournaments last season, including his second major at the Évian Championship. I hope to be able to maintain that rhythm for the next three days to get a few birdies. You should have a low score here in these conditions which is super. »
Jackets and even helmets were in order in the unusually cold weather for Florida last year, but Thursday was very mild, with mercury nearing 30 degrees Celsius.
While most golfers only enjoyed a short season, few looked rusty. At least 17 of the 29 golfers – the tournament split into 2021 and 2022 crown runners – have played below average.
In early 2021, Gainbridge winner Korda played a similar round to Henderson: five birdies and a bogey for 68.
He played alongside MLB pitcher Derek Lowe, who defended the pro-am champion of the mixed tournament. There is a section for professionals and celebrities, each with separate scholarships.
“It’s a great opportunity to play with him. I want him to win,” Lowe said.
Charley Hull from England, Gemma Dryburgh from Scotland and South Africa’s cards were 69. Defending champion Danielle Kang, however, couldn’t do much better than 71 and tied ninth place.
Henderson’s 2022 season did not end on a high note. He had to drop out of his penultimate tournament in November before embarking on a rehabilitation period for his back, deciding to finish in a tied seventh place at the Tour Championship in Naples, Florida.
“I didn’t have to worry about that today,” Henderson said. I make sure I’m doing the right things. I will be treated in the evening (Thursday) and morning (Friday). (…) It’s nice to be able to be aggressive again and play the shots that should be. »
On the celebrity side, a household name that finds herself at the top of the standings is Annika Sorenstam, champion of 72 tournaments in the circuit. Second in 2022, Sorenstam scored 39 points in the modified Stableford format, two points better than the 2021 champion ex-tennis Mardy Fish.