Henderson with a chance at history
Brooke Henderson had never led the CP Women’s Open going into this week, but heads to Sunday with a chance to etch her name in Canadian sports lore.
Henderson shot a 2-under-par 70 Saturday and sits 14-under overall. She leads by one over Angel Yin and Nasa Hataoka, looking for her second win of the season.
The 20-year-old has six career LPGA Tour victories. The record mark for Canadian professionals – male or female – is eight, held by Sandra Post, George Knudson, and Mike Weir.
Henderson bogeyed her fifth hole of the day at Wascana Country Club but rattled off four birdies in her next nine holes. She made a bogey on the par-5 17th, but said her putting was working well for her Saturday.
“It was pretty good. I made some putts, obviously left some out there, but overall I'm still very confident in it,” she said. “I feel like I'm reading putts really well, so hopefully I can just continue that, reading putts properly, and knock them in tomorrow.”
Henderson came into the week off her best round of the year, a 9-under-par 63 at the Indy Women in Tech Championship last Sunday. She said she carried some of that momentum into this week.
Henderson was feeding off the crowds all day. But she said the next 12 hours will likely be treated the same as anything else.
“It's pretty normal,” she said with a smile. “I'm always trying to play my best on Sundays, and I definitely played really well last Sunday in Indy, so kind of just try to match what I did last week."
“But it's an amazing accomplishment to be this far, but I'm not done yet, so hopefully I can just have a great night, restful, sleep well, and then wake up tomorrow ready to go.”
The native of Smiths Falls, Ont. – located about an hour from Canada’s capital, Ottawa – is looking to become the first Canadian since Jocelyne Bourassa in 1973 to win the national championship.
She acknowledged there was going to be some hefty competition if she wants to re-write history.
“That would be pretty sweet,” she said. “It's definitely a long way from that. There's like a million players within like five shots, so I definitely have to play my best and hopefully go low.”
Yin looking for first win
Angel Yin struggled out of the gate Saturday, but that wasn’t a sign of things to come.
Yin, who bogeyed her first hole and made a double bogey on her third hole, was bogey-free the rest of the way. She made four birdies and had a chance at eagle on the par-5 17th but couldn’t convert.
There are not many golfers on the LPGA Tour who can outdrive Brooke Henderson, but Yin did that frequently Saturday, as she was paired with the Canadian and will again be matched up with her for Sunday’s finale.
“The crowd is great here. There are people out here cheering me on. Of course they were cheering Brooke on, but I don't want to get them thrown out of the country for cheering for me,” she said with a smile."
Yin had two three putts Sunday because, she admitted, the greens were rolling “ridiculously fast.”
Yin said she was able to adjust after the first three holes because she wasn’t hitting into the greens soft enough. She adjusted well, and her scores reflected that.
“You kind of just mold yourself in the playing conditions,” she said, admitting she was trying to warm up most of the day.
“Overall my game was good. It was really cold. It was windy. The greens were extremely fast,” she said. “I think I grinded it out pretty well today.”
Yin will play in the final group Sunday. Her best finish of the year is a tie for third at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship. She came into the week after a tie for fifth at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.
Ernst staying steady
Austin Ernst has seemingly done everything but win this year, but she’s relishing how well she’s been playing this week at the CP Women’s Open.
Ernst, who has one LPGA Tour victory on her resume, started Saturday with two bogeys in her first four holes. But she got back on track soon after, making birdies on her next 10 holes.
She admitted her round was a little more up-and-down than her previous two rounds.
“I hit the ball really well the first two days, and today I struggled a little bit early ball-striking, just a little bit different wind direction, and didn't have quite as much control,” she said. “I made a few putts coming in to kind of right the ship.”
Ernst has three top-10 finishes on the season, including a runner-up result at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G.
She said she’s hopeful to execute on a similar game plan on Sunday and hopefully post a low number.
“You get a lot of looks out here, and hopefully you can run a few of them in. But I'm not going to change anything. I have a good game plan for the course,” she said. “I'm not going to change anything I'm doing, I'm just going to try to give myself a lot of looks like I did those first few days and make a few more of them.”
Ko making the best of it
When asked if Lydia Ko felt like she “perhaps” had the tough side of the draw this week, she was quick to correct.
“Perhaps?” she retorted with a smile.
Ko shot a 4-under-par 68 Saturday to move to 10-under, four shots back of the lead going into the final round. The round came after Ko shot an even-par 72 Friday in brutal weather conditions of cold and high winds.
She said Friday was “probably” one of the toughest wind conditions she had ever played in her whole career.
Despite two early bogeys on Saturday, Ko righted the ship and made six birdies on the day. She said her round was “really solid.”
“It was kind of a bit of an up-and-down start to my day on the front nine, but I was able to have two good birdies in a row, and I think that really turned my day around,” she said. “It was pretty windy out there. Obviously not as windy as yesterday, but I tried to stay patient and give myself good opportunities.”
Ko broke out of a winless slump earlier this year. She said her ball-striking has been solid the last few days, and admitted that although sometimes it’s hard to bring all aspects of her game together, when they do, she said she gets excited to post low scores.
As a three-time winner of the CP Womne’s Open, Ko said she’s been feeling the fan support all week.
But, she knows who most of them are cheering for.
“With Brooke playing well, I think it's really an exciting few days for golf in Canada. Whether it's going to be snowing, raining or windy, sunny, I feel like the fans are going to come out and cheer us on,” she said. “It's always great to play in front of the great crowds here.”