Golf: Brooke Henderson has wire-to-wire bid in sight at Tournament of Champions

Brooke Henderson of Canada teeing off at the 15th hole uring the third round of the Tournament of Champions on Saturday. PHOTO: AFP

ORLANDO, Florida - Canada’s Brooke Henderson continued her steady play on Saturday and will take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the season-opening Tournament of Champions in Orlando.

She shot a three-under 69 in Saturday’s third round and is at 14 under on the Lake Nona Golf and Country Club course to maintain her lead. She has two previous wire-to-wire victories in her career, the most recent in 2019.

Nelly Korda (68) and Japan’s Nasa Hataoka (66) will head into the final round tied for second at 11 under. Korda gained a shot on Henderson after sitting alone in second place following the second round on Friday.

Sweden’s Maja Stark (68) and England’s Charley Hull (69) were tied for fourth place at nine under, three shots clear of a cluster of five at six under.

Henderson’s 69 was her highest of the three rounds and while she was able to pinpoint some flaws, it was her ball striking that enabled her to maintain a multi-shot lead. She had a pair of birdies on each side and a bogey at the par-four 12th just her second in 54 holes.

“I wasn’t making the same amount of putts that I did the other days, but the putter still feels really good, and I’m just super excited to be in contention and in the final groups first tournament back,” she said. “Just a great feeling, and grateful to be here and hopefully (Sunday) is a good day.”

Korda charged back from a shaky front nine to go five under over the final 10 holes, including a run of four birdies in five holes.

“My style of play is pretty aggressive, so I wasn’t really hitting it too great on the front nine; I was hitting it fine,” Korda said. “I was just missing pretty much my spot by a couple of yards here and there.

“On the back nine, I kind of picked a target, a little bit more of an aggressive target and really dialled into that, and I think that really helped.”

Hataoka continued to charge up the leaderboard after a one-under 71 in the opening round. Her six-under round on Saturday left her 10 under for the past two rounds.

The Japanese was even better than Korda on the final 10 holes, playing them in seven under. She roared into the clubhouse with five birdies on her final six holes.

“Whenever I’m playing like that, my ball striking is always the key, and I was able to do that today,” Hataoka said. “I’m really happy with it.”

Among the group tied for sixth place is defending tournament champion Danielle Kang.

In the tournament’s celebrity division, former tennis player Mardy Fish is in the lead with a 117 on the Modified Stableford scoring system. Amputee golfer Chad Pfeifer and former National Hockey League star Jeremy Roenick were tied for second with 103 points. LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam (102) was fourth. REUTERS

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