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Canada’s Brooke Henderson 3 shots back of lead after 1st round of LPGA Tour finale

Lydia Ko started her quest for the most important prize in ladies’s golf historical past by hitting a tree and making bogey on a par 5. The relaxation of Thursday within the CME Group Tour Championship could not have gone higher.

Ko responded with eight birdies, together with 4 in a row late within the round at Tiburon Golf Club, that despatched her to a 7-under 65 and a one-shot lead within the LPGA Tour season finale.

So a lot as at stake this week, even past the $2 million US prize to the winner.

Ko has a one-point lead within the race for LPGA Tour participant of the yr. She would look like a lock to win the Vare Trophy for the bottom scoring common. Both are price some extent in her bid to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame.

“If I’m holding the trophy, holding all of the trophies or no trophy … I simply wish to have a very good week,” Ko stated. “These alternatives do not come alongside fairly often. I wish to attempt to seize it when it is there.”

It’s all proper in entrance of Ko, who has two wins in what she considers her most constant yr on the LPGA Tour.

Henderson impresses

And proper behind are loads of challengers.

Danielle Kang and Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand had been at 66, Gemma Dryburgh of Scotland and Hyo Joo Kim of South Korea had been at 67 and the group at 68 included Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., and Nelly Korda.

Korda missed 4 months earlier this yr as a result of of surgical procedure for a blood clot in her left arm. She lastly is back to full energy, and her victory final week up the coast at Pelican Golf Club allowed her to return to No. 1 within the ladies’s world rating.

Henderson needed to withdraw final week with back ache, and the Canadian wasn’t even certain she would have the ability to play. But she made an adjustment in her swing, and it allowed her to get round Tiburon with a good 68.

Henderson has an out of doors shot at participant of the yr, although she must win and have Ko and Minjee Lee end third or worse.

Lee, who already has set an LPGA Tour document with $3.7 million in earnings this season, opened with a 71. Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand, the 19-year-old who reached No. 1 on the planet till Korda took it back, had a 73.

Ko may solely snicker at her begin of the match by hitting a tree.

“It’s virtually like I had two tee shots,” he stated. “Even although I bogeyed a par 5, I knew loads of holes had been going to play downwind. I attempted to not get too annoyed. The first 4 holes into the wind are a beast. I knew if I may grasp on and be affected person, there could be so much of alternatives.

“I used to be in a position to seize so much of them on the back 9.”

And that began with a par. She was fast on a chip from simply off the thirteenth inexperienced and watched it run some 12 ft by the outlet. Ko made the par putt, and he or she was off and working, making 4 straight birdies. It helped that two had been par 5s.

Korda gave up a simple birdie probability on the par-5 seventeenth when she drove it so lengthy she had solely 159 yards left. But she got here up properly quick and did not get up-and-down. That was a product of what she known as getting fooled too typically by the tip.

Korda had an opportunity in any respect the awards final yr till Jin Young Ko beat her, making it the third straight yr the South Korean star had received at Tiburon.

Making it 4 in a row will likely be troublesome. Jin Young Ko opened with a 72 as she continues to cope with an ailing left wrist.

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