SAMMAMISH - There’s something about the Pacific Northwest that brings out the best in Brooke Henderson’s game.
The world No.4 ranked player took the early lead in round one of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on Thursday with a four-under par, 67 that included her first ace on the LPGA Tour on her fourth hole of the day. Henderson hit a seven iron from 152 yards to record her fourth career hole in one and won a Kia K900 in the process, which she plans to give to her sister and caddie, Brittany.
“Yeah it was a pretty good day today. Yeah, the hole-in-one was awesome,” Henderson told the media. “I pulled my shot a little bit, caught the left apron and followed right into the hole. It’s my fourth one. And ended up being the car hole. And four-under today. So it was a good set.”
The Canadian won her first event on Tour in August of 2015 at Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland, which features a similar layout to that of Sahalee Country Club. Although she hit just 10 of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens, she managed to get around in just 23 putts to card the low round of the day to position herself well to start the week.
“A lot of my top-10s have come on Saturday and Sunday, so to start off today with a pretty good round, I kind of was feeding off the energy I had last year at KPMG. I started off with a six-under round, so I was hoping to do the same thing.”
Henderson finished T-5 in her first playing of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in 2015. She has recorded nine consecutive worldwide top-10’s in 2016.
Christina Kim sits just two-strokes back of Henderson, opening with a two-under par 69 on a course that lived up to its major caliber on Thursday.
“This place has absolutely drained me. I’m very, very thankful that I was able to play early today, to be able to get some rest, to go out there and try and do it again tomorrow,” Kim told the media. “It’s a great feeling, but I am exhausted right now.”
Kim has posted top-four finishes in her last two starts and would pick up her first major victory with a win at Sahalee on Sunday. In-Kyung Kim, formerly I.K. Kim, also carded an opening round two-under par, 69 to sit two back of Henderson.
In search of her fourth consecutive win on Tour, Ariya Jutanugarn carded a one-under par, 70 on Thursday to sit three strokes back of the lead. She’s part of a group at one-under including Minjee Lee, Tiffany Joh, Ashleigh Simon, Suzann Pettersen and Hee Young Park.
Three-time defending champion Inbee Park posted a one-over par, 72 on Thursday for her lowest round since April. She sits five-strokes back of the lead. Upon the completion of her round, Park officially qualified for the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame, becoming the 24th member and youngest to qualify since Se Ri Pak at age 27. Park has been battling an ongoing injury in her left thumb, which forced her to withdraw from her prior two starts.
Three-time KPMG Women’s PGA Champion Se Ri Pak withdrew after the seventh hole due to an arm injury.