RIO DE JANEIRO – Brooke Henderson battled inconsistency in her first round at the Olympic Golf Course. Teammate Alena Sharp couldn’t seem to get a putt to drop.
Despite those challenges, the two Canadians managed to hang around the middle of the pack Wednesday on a hot, sunny and windy day at the Rio Games.
Henderson did well to finish at 1-under 70 after a rough start while Sharp bookended her round with birdies for a 72. They showed they have the potential to score well on a wide, hilly course that suits their games.
“The way both of them played, there’s a 65 or a 64 in both of them,” said Canadian coach Tristan Mullally. “That’s what you need to potentially get yourself back into contention.”
Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn opened with a 6-under-par 65 for a one-shot lead on Inbee Park and Seiyoung Kim of South Korea. Nicole Broch Larsen of Denmark was in a group of three players at 67 and American Lexi Thompson was in a four-way tie at 68.
“I wasn’t far off today,” Henderson said. “Just a couple mishit shots, a (bad) bunker lie, but that’s going to happen. You just have to move on, learn from it and make a better shot the next time.”
Henderson bogeyed the second hole and found the sand on No. 4 before settling for double bogey. She rebounded with an eagle on the 493-yard, par-5 fifth and added birdies on two of the next three holes.
“Many a player at three-over par through four holes would not recover from there,” Mullally said. “If anything she uses it as motivation to come back even stronger.
“She had a couple double bogeys today and still shot under par.”
The other double came on the 12th when she was well wide of the fairway and needed to hit a provisional ball. Henderson hit a 10-foot putt to avoid a rare triple bogey.
“I don’t see double bogeys on my card very often, which is a good thing,” she said. “But unfortunately I had two today.”
The third-ranked Henderson has enjoyed a strong season on the LPGA Tour with a pair of tournament victories, including her first major title at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Her approach shots were a little off Wednesday as she hit only 12 of 18 greens in regulation.
“My putting was probably the best part of my game today,” she said. “I made a couple long ones for birdie, and then inside 10 feet, I was pretty clutch to save pars a couple times when I needed to, save bogey, save double-bogey a couple times.”
It was the opposite for Sharp, the world No. 81, who couldn’t seem to get her putter going.
She double-bogeyed the fifth hole and added a couple bogeys on the back nine before closing with a birdie.
“You saw some of the guys shoot seven under last week,” Sharp said. “I think it’s doable if you hit the right ridges. The way I’m hitting it right now, I can’t sit here and tell you that it’s out of the question for me.
“If I just get my putter hot, I’ll be good.”
Mullally, who split the day walking the 6,245-yard course with both Canadians, agreed with her.
“It’s hard to watch that kind of round, you feel bad for her because she’s played as well if not better than players shooting four or five under par but just doesn’t have the result for it,” he said.
Play continues through Saturday.