KO, BROCH LARSEN LEAD IN CANADA, HENDERSON JUST TWO STROKES BEHIND HEADING TO SUNDAY
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Jin Young Ko and Nicole Broch Larsen are tied atop the leaderboard at -18 heading into Sunday’s final round of the 2019 CP Women’s Open. But with Canadian phenom Brooke Henderson sitting two strokes behind at -16, the trophy is anything but secure.
Ko and Henderson both returned 65s on Saturday, tied for the low round of the day, while Broch Larsen carded her third consecutive 66. Much to the chagrin of the throngs of Canadian fans, Henderson was 2 over through seven holes. But a special encounter with a young fan turned the switch for Henderson. She was 9 under through her final 11 holes, with an eagle at No. 12 and seven birdies, to surge back up the leaderboard.
“It was a little bit of a struggle there. I felt like I was playing decent golf. Just wasn't really going my way,” said Henderson. “Then on the seventh green a little boy gave me a high five and then he continued that the rest of the round. I think starting at the time he kind of cheered me up a little bit. I think I tried to get back to even on the front nine. Going to eight tee, I was trying to just make two birdies, get it back to even and then see if I could go really low on the back, which I did.”
The fan roars could be heard all the way around the golf course, meaning Ko and Broch Larsen, playing one group behind Henderson, were well aware of what was going on in front of them.
“We could definitely hear those roars coming in on the back nine. Every time they went a little bit louder than normal I felt like, yeah, you knew Brooke made a birdie,” said Broch Larsen. “I saw she was off to a rough start but made a really good back nine, I guess.”
American Amy Olson shot her third consecutive 68 to sit in a tie for fifth and is in prime position to play her way onto the U.S. Solheim Cup Team, which will be decided following Sunday’s completion of play. Olson, Angel Yin (T8),Brittany Altomare (T22), Ally McDonald (T45) and Annie Park (T49) are among the American players vying for the eighth berth on the Solheim Cup points standings and the two automatic qualifying spots via the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, with an additional two wild-card spots in the hands of Captain Juli Inkster.
WITH A WIN
Jin Young Ko would earn her fourth win of the 2019 LPGA Tour season and become the first four-time winner since Lydia Ko in 2016
Nicole Broch Larsen would become the season’s sixth Rolex First-Time Winner
Brooke Henderson would become the third player in CP Women’s Open history to successfully defend her title, joining Lydia Ko (2012 and 2013) and Pat Bradley (1985 and 1986)
HENDERSON IN PRIME POSITION TO REPEAT
When Brooke Henderson met with the media on Tuesday, she said winning the 2018 CP Women’s Open was “the highlight of my career so far.” Henderson, the winningest Canadian professional golfer on the LPGA and PGA Tours with nine wins, has the chance to add to her national-championship legacy on Sunday as she will start the final round just two strokes off the lead.
While the 21-year-old Canadian has twice successfully defended an LPGA Tour title, winning Club 2015 and 2016 Cambia Portland Classic and the 2018 and 2019 LOTTE Championship, playing Magna Golf Course for the first time this year changes the stakes.
“Unlike those two events, this is a different golf course, so I can't rely on some great memories from the year previous when I stepped on the tee,” said Henderson. “But I think just knowing how I handled it last year and just if I could shoot another 65 like I did the last Sunday of the CP Women's Open that would be pretty special. I feel like I would have a good shot at it.”
Henderson used five birdies and an eagle to come home in 29 on Saturday to tie the lowest nine-hole score on a par-72 course for the LPGA this season, a performance she’s hoping she can repeat in the final round.
“Just like any tournament, it's won on the back nine on Sunday really. Hopefully I can just kind of repeat what I did today. It would be really special. To do it once is incredible. To do it twice would be really awesome.”
If the past three days are any indication, droves of Canadian fans are expected to be following the final grouping on Sunday and Henderson said she really thrives on the support from her home country.
“The Brooke Brigade has been really awesome and all the fans that have been here supporting me since early Thursday morning,” said Henderson. “It's been surreal and an awesome week, and hopefully I can play well tomorrow.”
NERVOUS BROCH LARSEN SURVIVES SATURDAY CHALLENGE
Nicole Broch Larsen, a native of Hillerod, Denmark, admitted to a good case of nerves as her tee time approached, especially after a restless night that saw her wake up long before her alarm blared. Her 6-under 66 certainly belied those jitters, with her round highlighted by an eagle at No. 14 to go with five birdies and one bogey.
“I felt better when I got out on the course. I felt pretty chilled when I arrived, and then as the tee time got closer I felt like my heartbeat was a little bit faster than normal,” said Broch Larsen. “I just took some deep breaths and was reminding myself of what I planned with my coach. I felt like I did really well today. And, yeah, I'm proud of myself.”
This is the second time that Broch Larsen holds a portion of the 54-hole lead at the CP Women’s Open. She shot a final-round 71 at the 2017 championship to finish tied for third.
NO STRESS, NO PROBLEMS FOR HSU
Coming into the 2019 LPGA season, 2015 rookie Wei-Ling Hsu had high expectations. After having the best year of her career in 2018, where she collected a career-high four top-10 finishes, she thought it was high time she found the winner’s circle. Her plan nearly came to fruition as she finished in third at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open to open her 2019 campaign.
After that things didn’t come as easily for the 24-year-old, as a solo fifth-place finish at the Pure Silk Championship is her lone top-30 finish in her last 18 starts. The difference this week? Hsu said it’s all about her attitude.
“Get rid of the stress. I was very stressed out the past two month and try to improve, but the main thing is just mental game,” said Hsu. “I'm just try to be perfect every time and try to show everybody that I can do it, but actually I just put way too much pressure on my shoulder.”
Hsu’s 54-hole 203 is her career-best mark and she said she’s really enjoying her time at the CP Women’s Open on Magna Golf Club.
“I love this golf course. I will say this is the top three golf course that I like it this season,” she said. “Definitely very happy to see I can able to shoot 7-under today. Just give myself a lot of confidence and getting more comfortable in the close to the leader group.”
USA SOLHEIM CUP POINTS STANDINGS SCENARIOS
The competition for the eighth spot on the USA Solheim Cup points list is down to three players – Brittany Altomare, Ally McDonald and Angel Yin. Altomare holds the final spot by 7.5 points over McDonald and 40.5 points over Yin.
Brittany Altomare, eighth with 257.5 points, has the most chances with many combinations.
Ally McDonald, ninth with 250 points, needs a 17th or better finish to have a chance.
Angel Yin needs to win, have McDonald finish fifth or worse and have Altomare finish 10th or worse. If Yin wins and Altomare finishes ninth, the tiebreaker would be Rolex Rankings.
After the third round, Altomare is tied for 22nd, McDonald is tied for 45th and Yin is tied for eighth.
ROLEX WOMEN’S WORLD GOLF RANKINGS PROJECTIONS
Rolex Rankings World No. 1 Sung Hyun Park is the only player with a mathematical chance to overtake No. 1 Jin Young Ko based on her finish at the CP Women’s Open. Park must win and have Ko finish solo third or worse, or she must finish solo second and have Ko finish solo 25th or worse. There may be additional possibilities with tie scenarios and separate projection scenarios would be run to check. After the third round, Ko is tied for first and Park is tied for 36th.
In the race for the top-ranked American, only Nelly Korda can pass Lexi Thompson. Korda, who is currently No. 10, must win and have Thompson, who is currently No. 3, finish solo fourth or worse. After the third round, Thompson is tied for 29th and Korda is tied for 17th.
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Jin Young Ko (66-67-65)
Ko’s 198 is the best 54-hole score of her LPGA Tour career; her previous best was 201, which she shot five times, most recently at the 2019 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
Her third-round 65 is tied for the second-lowest round of her LPGA Tour, behind four 64s
She hit 12 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens, with 28 putts
Ko is in her second season on the LPGA Tour; she has five career victories, including the 2019 Bank of Hope Founders Cup, 2019 ANA Inspiration and 2019 Evian Championship
This is Ko’s 17th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; she is the only three-time winner of the season, taking victories at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, ANA Inspiration and Evian Championship
She is competing in her second CP Women’s Open; she tied for 23rd in 2018
Rolex Rankings No. 173 Nicole Broch Larsen (66-66-66)
Broch Larsen’s 198 is the best 54-hole score of her LPGA Tour career; her previous best was 199, which she shot at the 2019 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
This is the third time that Broch Larsen has held the lead following any round, joining the third round of the 2017 CP Women’s Open and the second round of the 2019 CP Women’s Open
She hit eight of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens, with 29 putts
Broch Larsen is in her third season on the LPGA Tour; her best finish is a tie for third at the CP Women’s Open
This is Broch Larsen’s 16th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is a tie for 10th at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
She is competing in her third CP Women’s Open; she tied for third in 2017 and missed the cut in 2018
Rolex Rankings No. 8 Brooke Henderson (66-69-65)
She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with 26 putts
This is Henderson’s fifth season on the LPGA Tour; she has nine career victories, which is the most of any Canadian professional golfer on the PGA and LPGA Tours
This is Henderson’s 20th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; she has wins at the LOTTE Championship and the Meijer LPGA Classic, and has six other top-10 finishes
She is competing in her eighth CP Women’s Open; she won in 2018, becoming the second Canadian winner in championship history