Golf: Henderson surges ahead, Ariya charges in LPGA opener

Brooke Henderson of Canada hits her tee shot on the seventh hole during the second round.
Brooke Henderson of Canada hits her tee shot on the seventh hole during the second round.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Canada's Brooke Henderson fired a four-under par 67 on Friday (Jan 18) to grab a two-stroke lead after the second round of the LPGA's season-opening Tournament of Champions.

Ninth-ranked Henderson closed a bogey-free round with seven pars in a row to stand on 10-under 132 after 36 holes at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

World number one Ariya Jutanugarn was hot on her heels after firing a second consecutive 67 to share second on 134 alongside New Zealand's 14th-ranked Lydia Ko and South Korea's 32nd-ranked Ji Eun-hee.

Henderson, a 21-year-old who has now gone 34 holes without a bogey, began the day level for the lead with Ji but jumped ahead with birdies at the fourth and par-5 seventh holes, then began the inward nine with back-to-back birdies.

Ariya, who had a bogey-free opening round, took bogeys at the par-3 fifth and 18th holes but sandwiched six birdies in between. She birdied all four par-5 holes - the seventh, 10th, 13th and 17th - as well as the par-4 eighth and 16th.

"It was great," Ariya said. "I didn't expect to hit 4-under today, because I was everywhere." Ko birdied the first and fourth holes before stumbling with a bogey at the fifth. She opened the back nine with a birdie and added another at 13 but bogeyed 15 before answering with a birdie at 17 in the new event, which matches LPGA winners and celebrities from other fields.

"I've just been embracing this format and enjoying playing with these celebrities," Ko said.

Ji shook off a birdie-bogey start and answered a bogey at six with a birdie two holes later, then birdied 13 and 16 and closed with two pars to stay in the second-place pack.

Henderson won last year's LPGA Lotte Championship and Canadian Women's Open to qualify for the Tournament of Champions while Ariya won three times, including her second career major title at the US Women's Open.