Canadian Henderson fires 66 in bid to repeat in national open

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There was a chill in the air when Brooke Henderson arrived to begin her title defense at the CP Women’s Open outside Toronto Thursday morning, with the weather making her wonder if scoring conditions might be tough.

She didn’t mind, though.

“It was really cold and windy, and I was like, ‘Uh-oh,’” Henderson said. “But in the back of my head, it was also sort of like Sunday last year, so figured it might not be a bad thing.”

Apparently not.

Henderson, 21, picked up right where she left off a year ago.

With a 6-under-par 66, she seized sole possession of the lead through the morning wave at Magna Golf Club. A strong gallery was there early to support her bid to win the national women’s open in back-to-back years.

Full-field scores from the CP Women’s Open

“To get a solid round like this in in front of them I think is really a confidence booster for me,” Henderson said. “Gives me a lot of momentum going into the next three days.”

Henderson’s ball striking was sharp. She hit all but two fairways and all but two greens in regulation and converted seven of the birdie opportunities she gave herself, against a single bogey.

Her victory in Saskatchewan last year made her the first Canadian to hoist the national women’s open trophy since Jocelyne Bourassa won the inaugural title 46 years ago. The momentum gained helped Henderson win her eighth and ninth career LPGA titles this year, enabling her to surpass Sandra Post, Mike Weir and George Knudson for most victories by a Canadian playing the LPGA or PGA Tour.

The Canadian support promises to keep growing if she continues this run to another victory this year. Magna Golf Club is four hours southwest of her home in Smiths Falls, but she’s pretty much the hometown favorite anywhere in Canada.

“This week is amazing,” she said. “To have this many people out on Thursday morning is pretty special. They’re cheering for me bright and early. So, that’s pretty cool.”