Tuesday, Brooke Henderson sat down with the media to share her first impressions of Windross Farm. As a player whose success has come on heavily tree-lined courses, she admitted the site of this week’s MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open doesn’t exactly suit her style of play. Her success would depend largely on the weather.
“I think if the wind stays up like it is right now, it is going be a challenge for the girls,” Henderson said Wednesday. “I think maybe if the wind dies and the conditions are still suitable, then the scores might be very low.”
Henderson was exactly right.
Thursday, she teed off alongside Jodi Ewart Shadoff and the pair took advantage of the morning's calm conditions, the only day of the Tournament without rain in the forecast. The pair shot matching rounds of 7-under par, 65 to share the lead on day one of the MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open. They lead by one-stroke ahead of Amy Boulden and Belen Mozo and two-strokes clear of Beatriz Recari, Na Yeon Choi and Brittany Lincicome.
“To shoot minus seven on a golf course that I didn’t think completely suited my game is really exciting,” Henderson said after her round. “My fast start really set-up my round and gave me a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence.”
The pair began their day on the back nine where Henderson got off to a hot start with two birdies in her first three holes. Both took advantage of the par 5’s, where during a practice round, Henderson was left with 150 yards into the green. But Thursday’s conditions allowed her to hit a wedge from just 80 yards. While the Canadian dropped her only shot of the day at the par 3, 17th hole, Ewart Shadoff remained flawless on day one.
“There was a good vibe in the group. Brooke was playing great, there were a lot of birdies and a great environment to be in,” said Ewart Shadoff.
Windross Farm still produced a tough test that’s likely to get tougher as the weather worsens this weekend. Even Henderson and Ewart Shadoff had their fair share of struggles, missing nine fairways between them, but they recovered on the greens. Each made it around in 26 putts.
“I putted well today. I think the greens are great,” said Ewart Shadoff. “They are running really true. Hopefully I can keep it going.”
The solid start is sure to provide a confidence boost for Ewart Shadoff who has doubted herself since missing the cut at the season’s final major. Just two months prior, the 2011 rookie recorded a final round 64 at the Ricoh Women’s British Open to finish runner-up.
“I didn’t expect to play as well as I did,” Ewart Shadoff said about Thursday’s round. “My last tournament I missed the cut at the Evian. My confidence wasn’t too high coming in this week.”
If she can carry that confidence into the weekend she’ll be well positioned to win her first event on Tour.