RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Brooke Henderson had by far the most fans following her around for the first round of the ANA Inspiration on Thursday.
The 18-year-old Canadian is still getting used to the support.
“It’s super cool,” Henderson said. “Every round it seems there are more fans and not only just from Canada. Though there is a huge Canadian crowd out here this week.”
Henderson opened with a 1-over 73 and was six shots off co-leaders Azahara Munoz and Ai Miyazato. The former hockey goalie from Smiths Falls, Ont., is making her second start at Mission Hills after tying for 26th in the major championship as an amateur in 2014.
“Some holes, I played awesome and just didn’t take advantage,” Henderson said. “I had a lot of birdie putts that I missed. Then holes that I kind of messed up on, I kind of messed up big time. It was just one of those rounds. Hopefully, clean up a few things tonight and have a better day tomorrow.”
She bogeyed Nos. 6 and 7, and rebounded with birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 – with a boost from the fans.
“On 11, walking up to the green before I hit my third shot out of the bunker, they yelled, ‘Go Canada!'” Henderson said. “I kind of felt a little better about myself and I was able to make two birdies in a row. So, I definitely think it helps.”
She bogeyed 13 and parred the final five holes, chipping in on the par-5 18th after her drive struck a palm tree and went into the water.
“It was kind of an interesting par,” Henderson said. “I think it’s the best one I’ve ever made in my life. I was happy to see it go in – and the crowd seemed to enjoy it too.”
Henderson won the Portland Classic last year to become the third-youngest champion in LPGA Tour history at 17 years, 11 months, 6 days. She was second in the Coates Golf Championship in Florida in early February and has had five straight top-10 finishes to jump to No. 7 in world.
Alena Sharp of Hamilton fired a 2-under 70 to grab a share of 14th thru 18 holes.