Brooke Henderson Takes Early Lead in The Annika Tournament
Written By: Associated Press
BELLEAIR, Fla. – Brooke Henderson made an impressive start in The Annika tournament, taking the lead with a remarkable 8-under 62 on the opening day of the LPGA Tour event. Henderson’s stellar performance put her one shot ahead of the competition.
Before teeing off on Thursday, Henderson was concerned about the low scores being posted by other players. However, she remained focused and putted for birdie on every hole, resulting in an outstanding round.
On her final hole, the par-3 ninth, Henderson sank a long birdie putt to finish the front nine with a score of 29. This propelled her past Jin Young Ko and Patty Tavatanakit, among others.
“Ball-striking has always been a strength of mine, but it hasn’t been as sharp as I would like in recent months,” said Henderson, who recently switched irons and felt she was heading in the right direction. “To hit all 18 greens is something I used to be accustomed to, and it feels amazing to have so many birdie opportunities.”
Henderson, who won the season opener in Florida, has struggled to maintain her form and has fallen to No. 13 in the women’s world ranking. She currently sits at No. 14 in the Race to CME Globe standings.
This tournament is crucial for the top 60 players to secure their spots in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples. However, Henderson and Ko, who has two LPGA victories, are already in a comfortable position and not worried about qualification.
On the other hand, Tavatanakit, a former major champion, is currently at No. 61 and got off to an ideal start in her quest to secure a spot in the Tour Championship.
“I’ve been preparing for this event and I know what I need to do,” said Tavatanakit. “I’m feeling a bit stressed, but I have no regrets. I did everything I could, and I’ll be out here knowing that.”
Emily Kristine Pedersen and Minami Katsu, ranked No. 80 and No. 78 respectively, also had impressive rounds of 63. Katsu made a late surge on a beautiful day at Pelican Golf Club, recording five birdies in six holes on the back nine.
Meanwhile, Lexi Thompson, playing for the first time since missing the cut in Las Vegas, opened with a solid 64 and is currently tied for sixth place. Thompson, who hasn’t won in over four years, will likely need a top-three finish to secure a spot in the season finale in Naples.
Defending champion Nelly Korda started with a 70, while Lydia Ko settled for a 67. Ko, currently ranked No. 101 in the Race to CME Globe, will likely need a second-place finish to defend her title in the Tour Championship.