Brooke Henderson Leads Canadians After Round One
CP Canadian Women's OpenSteve Kopp
There is a crowded leaderboard after round one of the 2019 CP Canadian Women’s Open. To the delight of both spectators and the tournament organizers, there are two Canadians who are on that leaderboard, just one shot back of the overall leader.
The leader is Annie Park, a native of Levittown, New York. She shot a sizzling 7-under par 65 after teeing off in the afternoon. That score is the competitive course record for the ultra-private Magna Golf Club where this year’s tournament is taking place. That puts her one stroke in front of five golfers, which includes the number one player in the world, Jin Young Ko and two Canadians.
Brooke Henderson went out in the morning and posted a 6-under par 66 to take the early lead. Then in the afternoon, Anne-Catherine Tanguay matched her score by shooting a five-under 31 on her second nine to give herself a 6-under 66. The other 66s were shot by Nicole Broch Larsen of Denmark and Pajaree Anannarukan of Thailand who was in the final group on the course.
But back to Henderson. She teed off around 8:00 on a cool, slightly windy morning. Her group of former world number one Stacey Lewis and Australian Minjee Lee, were followed all day by a large gallery of people, including many kids. She had only one bogey all round. She putted well and she sank all of her good birdie opportunities (seven to be exact) and had 28 putts in total. All in all, it was a good day and a great start for the 2018 champion.
“I just tried to keep things really simple,” said Henderson to a throng of media types after she signed her scorecard. “When I showed up this morning, it was really cold and windy and I was like, uh-oh. But in the back of my head, it was also sort of like Sunday last year, so I figured it might not be a bad thing.
“I just tried to hit a lot of fairways, give myself good shots into the green, give myself some good looks at birdies and felt like I made quite a few birdies on the front nine. That kind of calmed my nerves a little bit. Then everything just sort of went right. Hopefully, I can continue that.”
When I asked her if she had any butterflies or nerves on the first tee being the defending champion, she replied, “Actually, I think the opposite. I think I was a lot more relaxed and more confident than I have been other years. Stepping on the first tee just knowing that I have done this before, I have handled the pressure.”
As for Anne-Catherine Tanguay, the native of Quebec City started on the back nine and made the turn at 1-under. It was the front nine where her game really started to pick up as she made 5 birdies to finish the round at 6-under par.
“I hit 18 greens today, so that really helps,” said a visibly tired, but excited Tanguay after her round. “Not all great shots, but I think I just put myself in position to at least make good pars. I had a bunch of maybe 20, 25 footers that fell (for birdies)”.
Tanguay’s day did not start all that well. She woke up with a puffy eye and decided to put a call into her doctor. He suggested that she take an antihistamine, which she did and that seemed to clear things up. Tanguay has not been in this position before in her LPGA career, being just one shot off the lead after the opening round. What does she think she needs to do to keep things going in round two?
“I think it is just going to be to stay aggressive for me. I mean, I’m going to be nervous, I know, and it is not going to be easy. I just want to keep making aggressive swings and give myself some chances.”
The current leader is Annie Park. Playing in one of the final few groups of the day, she was actually at 8-under par with just two holes to go. But she was a bit too strong off the tee on the par-3 17th hole and ended up in a bunker. That led to her only bogey of the day and a one-shot lead instead of two.
“I was just trying to break my own personal record,” said Park after her round to just two media members (including myself) who were still around to witness her final hole. “Just wanted to go to 9-under. Tough 17th hole, tough break there; had a bogey. Tried to make up for it on the last hole, and just fell short.”
Park, playing in the afternoon, knew that Henderson had gone out and taken the early lead at 6-under. But she did not set out to shoot that number or lower, it just sort of happened.
“You know, Brooke is a phenomenal player, and not only that, she’s a great person. Such a sweetheart. I can see why the fans love her. But I was just focused on my own game out there. Just tried to play my best.”
Another player who had a good early morning round was Georgia Hall, a native of Wimborne, England. The runner up 2018 LPGA rookie of the year shot a 4-under par 68. She started on the back nine and had actually got it to 5-under par before a long wait on the 8th hole (her 17th) caused her to lose her concentration for a bit which led to her only bogey of the day. But despite that, she was pleased with her round overall.
“Yeah, I holed some good putts,” said Hall after her round. “My long game was really good. I was hitting it to 6, 8 feel quite a lot. The back nine (her first nine) is quite a lot easier than the front, so I tried to take advantage of that.”.
As mentioned, the first round did produce a pretty tight and crowded leaderboard. There are four golfers two shots back at 5-under and another five golfers at 4-under.
But not everyone had a good round. Other than Henderson and Tanguay, there was only one other Canadian golfer who was in the top 70. That was Megan Osland of Kelowna, BC who shot an even-par 72 on the day, good for a tie for 65th place. Hamilton’s Alena Sharp was at 1-over, tied for 82nd. She will need a better round on Friday in order to make it to the weekend. Orangeville’s Brittany Marchand woes this season continued as she shot a 5-over par 77. London’s own Maddie Szeryk made the turn at even-par, but four bogies and a double bogey on her last hole had her fighting back tears with a 78.
A couple of other Canadians that are worth mentioning. Veteran Lori Kane, playing in her record 29th Canadian Women’s Open and the face of Canadian women’s golf in the years before Brooke Henderson arrived on the scene, shot a disastrous 15-over par 87.
And what about 12-year old Vancouver native, Michelle Liu? She did make one birdie on the day but ended up shooting a 9-over par 81. She probably had the second-largest gallery of the day following her group.