PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Canada’s Brooke Henderson shot a bogey-free 5-under 68 in windy conditions Thursday to take the first-round lead in the season-opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.
“We did a really good job of hitting balls pin-high, and I don’t know how we did it,” Henderson said about caddie and sister, Brittany. “It’s hard to judge wind sometimes, but I feel like we calculated everything really well.”
The 20-year-old from Smiths Falls, ont., had four birdies in a seven-hole stretch and closed with three pars on the gusty Ocean Club layout.
“On 8 and 9, my 17th and 18th hole, putting was extremely difficult,” Henderson said. “My hat felt like it was falling off all the time. It was just hard to have good balance and kind of be over the putt for that long and have a good stroke on it.”
She has five LPGA Tour victories, winning last year in Michigan and in high wind New Zealand.
“I think by Sunday we will all be pretty good wind players,” Henderson said.
Australia’s Sarah Jane Smith finished with a bogey to drop into a tie for second with Spanish rookie Luna Sobron Galmes.
Maude-Aimee Leblanc (74) of Sherbrooke, Que., is 1 over and Hamilton’s Alena Sharp (75) is 2 over.
“I like playing in the struggle, I grew up playing in the wind, and I do enjoy playing difficult shots and stuff like that,” Smith said. “It’s probably better for me (other) people don’t like it.”
Sobron Galmes also is comfortable in wind.
“In Majorca, in my town, where I live, the wind is very hard, so it’s like this,” Sobron Galmes said. “I feel the course really is good. You play well, everything goes well.”
Top-ranked Shanshan Feng birdied her last for a 70.
“This is really windy and my ball-striking is not 100 per cent yet,” Feng said.
Danielle Kang also was at 70 with Lindsey Weaver, Katherine Kirk, Jing Yan and Maria Torres, the tour’s first player from Puerto Rico.
Lexi Thompson, a playoff loser to Brittany Lincicome last year, opened with a 72.
“If I’m playing well I know I can play well in the wind,” Thompson said. “The key is to hit it solid. The amateurs get out here and they start hitting harder and harder, but that’s not the key. You’ve got to swing a little bit smoother and make sure you get that centre contact. “
Michelle Wie eagled the par-5 11th in a 73, and playing partners Lincicome and third-ranked So Yeon Ryu followed at 74.
Kim and Ariya Jutanugarn shot 76, and Stacy Lewis had two double bogeys in a 78.
Twelve players were unable to finish the round because of darkness.