First ace on tour boosts Henderson

Canada's Brooke Henderson relied on a red-hot putter to card a 67 in the first round of the year's second women's Major.
Canada's Brooke Henderson relied on a red-hot putter to card a 67 in the first round of the year's second women's Major.PHOTO: REUTERS

She leads Women's PGA Championship by two strokes and wins car for her hole-in-one

LOS ANGELES • Canadian teenager Brooke Henderson recorded her first hole-in-one on the LPGA Tour, as she charged to a two-stroke lead after the opening round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship with a four-under 67 on Thursday.

The 18-year-old struck a seven-iron from 152 yards at the par-three 13th at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington, and then watched in delight as her ball disappeared into the cup.

"I pulled my shot a little but it caught the left apron and funnelled right in," said Henderson, who leads American Christina Kim and South Korean Kim In Kyung in the year's second women's Major.

The world No. 4 won a 2016 Kia K900 car for her feat and added: "The crowd went nuts, so it was pretty cool. It gave me a boost going into some tough holes. Three more rounds to go."

Henderson relied on a red-hot putter as she hit just 10 of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens but needed only 23 putts at the US$3.5 million (S$4.7 million) tournament.

Six players opened with 70, among them red-hot Thai Ariya Jutanugarn - who has won on her past three LPGA starts and carded her 11th sub-par score in 13 rounds - Australian Minjee Lee and Norway's Suzann Pettersen.

New Zealand's world No. 1 Lydia Ko, seeking her third Major after landing the ANA Inspiration in March, was a further stroke back after carding a 71.

Ko played in the morning alongside Lexi Thompson and Stacy Lewis, but neither of the Americans could keep pace. Lewis carded a 73 while Thompson struggled to a 75.

"My ball striking was good today, I just missed a few fairways," Ko told ESPN.

"(The course) is really tough. The fairways and greens have really dried out. I just have to play smart."

South Korean world No. 2 Park In Bee, the three-time defending champion at the event, shot a 72 and capped a memorable day by qualifying for the LPGA Hall of Fame (HOF).

The 27-year-old completed 10 years on the Tour with at least 10 starts, an eligibility requirement for the HOF. She is the 24th and youngest entrant and the second Korean after compatriot Pak Se Ri.

Park, who has been battling a left thumb injury that had forced her to withdraw from her previous two starts, said: "It feels surreal.

"I have been dreaming of myself being in the Hall of Fame so many times."

The seven-time Major winner added: "This truly feels amazing. I'm really going to enjoy today and there are so many people that helped me get here."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WOMEN'S PGA C'SHIP

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'First ace on tour boosts Henderson'. Print Edition | Subscribe