Brooke Henderson maintains her narrow lead after 54 holes. ~ Photo by Jeannie Gregory
Brooke Henderson started the day with a three-stroke lead and despite a few mid-round bobbles, she maintained her spot atop the leaderboard going into Sunday’s final round of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. The Canadian star was even on the round through her first 15 holes but closed with birdies at 16, 17 and 18 hold the lead at -19.
“I was able to get a pretty easy birdie on 16, and then I was just trying to birdie in to see if I could jump up to the top of the leaderboard again,” said Henderson, who tasted victory at Blythefield Country Club in 2017. “It was definitely fun and hopefully I can kind of just keep this momentum going tomorrow.”
Annie Park trails Henderson by two strokes after a bogey-free 65 on Saturday, her lowest round of the season. Park’s fellow Americans Lexi Thompson and Brittany Altomare are tied for third at -16. Thompson ended the day with a 2-foot eagle putt on No. 18 for a 10-under 62, the second-lowest round of her LPGA Tour career.
“I had a great number into No. 18 today, I had a perfect 8 iron,” said Thompson. “It was a good number so I knew I could just fire at that pin. If not, keep it on the left side and two-putt birdie. I just aimed at it, just trusted my golf swing and ended up being just a few feet. It was good to end on an eagle in front of all the fans.”
LPGA rookie Jennifer Kupcho carded her third consecutive 67 on Saturday and is solo fifth in her third start as an LPGA Tour professional.
HISTORY ON THE LINE FOR BROOKE HENDERSON
Brooke Henderson started the third round of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give with a three-stroke lead over her nearest competitor and with only two players within six strokes of her lead. By the time she stepped to the 16th tee, it had all evaporated, as Henderson found herself in a four-way tie for the lead at -16 with Lexi Thompson, Annie Park and Brittany Altomare. At even-par on her round through 15 holes, Henderson wasn’t necessarily playing poorly. She’d just plain been caught, with Thompson having finished a lights-out 10-under 62 six groups ahead and her fellow competitors Park and Altomare both sitting several strokes under par.
“I kind of found it hard to find my rhythm during the middle part of the round,” said Henderson. “I kind of got started batting third and that's never a good sign.”
On that 16th hole, everything changed for Henderson. A 5-foot birdie got her started on No. 16 and she followed that up with another birdie at No. 17. A third birdie, this one from inside 3 feet, at No. 18 capped a remarkable final three holes for the 21-year-old Canadian, who pulled two strokes clear of the field heading into Sunday’s final round.
“It was a little bit up and down, but to finish with those three birdies was really nice,” said Henderson, who won the 2019 LOTTE Championship in April. “Kind of made my round feel a little bit better. Just happy. I feel like I'm hitting the ball well and giving myself a lot of great looks, which is exciting.”
If Henderson takes the win tomorrow, she could rewrite the Canadian golf history books. A win would be her ninth, moving her one clear of Sandra Post, Mike Weir and George Knudson as the winningest Canadian golfer on the LPGA or PGA Tours. But as to be expected, Henderson is not looking past the task ahead of her.
“Of course that's in the back of your mind, but it's long from over,” said Henderson. “There's so many great players close to the top of the leaderboard. And this course, you know there's a lot of birdies out there, so it's going to take a low score. So hopefully I can just continue to hit good shots and give myself a chance for the win.”
Brittany Altomare ~ Photo by Jeannie Gregory
Annie Park ~ Photo by Jeannie Gregory