Henderson back in form at Manulife LPGA event

CAMBRIDGE, Ont. — Brooke Henderson’s smile returned Friday at Whistle Bear Golf Club. Her putting game was back too.

The Canadian star rebounded from a pedestrian opening round by firing a 5-under-par 67 at the Manulife LPGA Classic. She started a run of four straight birdies on the ninth hole and played bogey-free the rest of the way to move to 6-under 138.

“That was the day that I needed,” Henderson said.

Perrine Delacour of France had the early low round with a blistering 62. She was tied with American Lindy Duncan of the United States (65) at 11-under 133, one shot behind clubhouse leader Hyo Joo Kim of South Korea (67).

Delacour’s score was the lowest since three players shot 63 when the tournament moved here in 2015 after a three-year run at Grey Silo Golf Course in nearby Waterloo. South Korea’s Inbee Park (2014) and Hee Young Park (2013) share the tournament low of 10-under-par 61.

Shanshan Feng of China moved to 10 under with a 69. Paula Reto of South Africa was another shot back after a 66 and Karine Icher of France shot a 67 to move to 8 under.

Brittany Marchand of Orangeville, Ont., shot a 70 to make her first career LPGA Tour cut. The full-time Symetra Tour player opened with a 67 and was at 7 under overall.

First-round leaders Suzann Pettersen of Norway and Mi Hyang Lee of South Korea had early afternoon tee times. Conditions were warm and breezy and preferred lies were in effect for the second straight day.

Henderson, one of the longest hitters on tour, was crushing the ball off the tee during Thursday’s opening round but struggled with the putter. She was visibly frustrated with her short game at times and didn’t speak with reporters after signing her scorecard.

“I played really well yesterday, I hit a lot great shots, I just didn’t make any putts and my energy kind of dropped a little bit,” Henderson said. “Today I was able to get a few tap-in birdies that were only at three or four feet and that gave me a lot of confidence.

“I felt like I could make any putt out there.”

The world No. 15 from Smiths Falls, Ont., has had a rather quiet season after a huge year in 2016. Henderson won her first major title last year and reached No. 2 in the world rankings.

The 19-year-old is still looking for her first victory this season. She has just two top-10 finishes over 13 events.

Henderson admitted it can still be challenging for her to shake off a disappointing round.

“That’s the learning curve and I’m still working on that,” she said. “I still take them pretty tough sometimes. But coming back with a day like today is really important and teaching me that it’s only one round. The cut is two rounds and the tournament is four.

“It’s not the end of the world when you make a mistake on the first day.”

Hamilton’s Alena Sharp, the low Canadian on Thursday with a 66, had a late tee time. Augusta James of Orangeville, Ont., had a 73 to fall to 1-under 143, which was right around the projected cutline.

Maddie Szeryk (78-67) of London, Ont., and Maude-Aimee LeBlanc of Sherbrooke, Que., (74-71) were expected to just miss the cut at 145.

The rest of the Canadian contingent included Jennifer Kirby (76-72, 148) of Brantford, Ont., Jaclyn Lee of Calgary (75-74, 149), Calgary’s Jennifer Ha (72-77, 149), Samantha Richdale (79-72, 151) of Kelowna, B.C., Vivian Tsui (76-76, 152) of Markham, Ont., and Charlottetown’s Lorie Kane (76-77, 153). Grace St. Germain of Penticton, B.C., had a late tee time.

Play continues through Sunday at the US$1.7-million tournament.

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