Brooke Henderson of Canada acknowledges fans during the first round of the LPGA Classic at Whistle Bear Golf Club in Cambridge, Ont., on Thursday. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canada’s Sharp, Marchand in contention at LPGA stop, Henderson seven shots back

CAMBRIDGE, Ont. — Preferred lies and ideal conditions left Whistle Bear Golf Club in a prone position for Thursday’s opening round at the Manulife LPGA Classic. Canadians Alena Sharp and Brittany Marchand took full advantage.

Sharp eagled the par-5 12th hole en route to a 6-under 66 while Marchand opened with a 67. Both were within striking distance of Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and South Korea’s Mi Hyang Lee, who shared the lead at 8-under 64.

“I knew I needed to shoot a low round,” Sharp said. “But you don’t really want to think about a score in your mind. The way I’m hitting it I knew I was going to have a lot of chances and I took advantage of the par fives. I was 5 under on those so that really helped me out.”

South Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim, Belgium’s Gonzalez Escall and China’s Shanshan Feng were one shot off the lead at 65.

Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., had an uneven performance in the warm, sunny conditions. She was visibly frustrated after missing a few short birdie putts around the turn and finished with a 71.

Henderson declined to speak with reporters after signing her scorecard. She eventually offered a few pithy post-round comments to an LPGA Tour official.

“I hit a lot of really great shots and the putts just didn’t drop today,” Henderson said. “But hopefully I can switch things around tomorrow and everything will be good.”

Pettersen, meanwhile, recently lost her yardage book for the course and had to write notes from scratch this week. She trusted her eye and it paid off with six birdies over one eight-hole stretch.

“We woke up this morning to perfect conditions,” she said. “You can fire at pins and get to par fives, which is fun. I think it’s the best way to set up a golf course and get low scores.”

Sharp, from Hamilton, started on the back nine. She bogeyed her opening hole before recovering on the 12th, using a 6-iron to leave herself a 15-footer for eagle.

Sharp connected and followed it up with three birdies over her next four holes.

“I was on a nice run,” she said. “It was just easy. Felt really simple.”

Marchand, a Symetra Tour player entered as a sponsor’s invite, also had an early morning tee time. The Orangeville, Ont., native fired seven birdies over her round to go with a pair of bogeys.

She even had the clubhouse lead for a spell.

“I’ve shot 5 under before but never in an LPGA event, so it’s pretty cool,” Marchand said.

The course dried out a little as the round progressed. Warm temperatures were expected to continue through Sunday’s final round.

The 6,613-yard track is still recovering from an unusually wet and cool spring in the area. Players were allowed to lift, clean and replace balls on closely mowed fairway areas.

Those who kept drives long and tight could attack the soft greens.

“I just made a lot of key putts today and that kept me going,” Sharp said. “I made a lot of six- to 10-footers, which is what I’ve been working on. It’s nice to see the results coming early in the tournament.”

Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England and Emily Pedersen of Norway were tied with Sharp in sixth place at 66.

Joining Marchand at 67 were Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, South Korea’s In Gee Chun and Americans Angel Yin, Lexi Thompson and Lee Lopez. Defending champion Caroline Masson of Germany opened with a 70.

There are 10 other Canadians entered in the US$1.7-million event. They include Augusta James (70) of Orangeville, Calgary’s Jennifer Ha (72), Grace St. Germain (72) of Penticton, B.C., Maude-Aimee LeBlanc (74) of Sherbrooke, Que., Jaclyn Lee of Calgary (75), Charlottetown’s Lorie Kane (76), Jennifer Kirby (76) of Brantford, Ont., Vivian Tsui (76) of Markham, Ont., Maddie Szeryk (78) of London, Ont., and Samantha Richdale (79) of Kelowna, B.C.

Notes: The field features 24 of the 37 rookies on Tour, the most first-year players to appear at one tournament this season. … This event made its debut in 2012 at Grey Silo Golf Course in nearby Waterloo. … Manulife will not continue as title sponsor after this season. The LPGA is hoping to return in the future with a new sponsor, but nothing has been finalized.

Just Posted

Suspect arrested after collision in stolen truck

Driver faces charges in court today

WATCH: From humble beginnings Red Deer-based wrestling promotion is growing

It wasn’t that long ago that Dylon Featherstone and the Canadian Wrestling… Continue reading

WATCH: Families make yo-yos and weaved yarn at Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery

It was all about making yo-yos and yarn bombing at Red Deer… Continue reading

Solve mysteries with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in Red Deer

At three sold-out one act Sherlock Holmes plays in Red Deer, theatre… Continue reading

WATCH Replay Red Deer Feb. 18: Your weekly news highlights

Watch news from Red Deer and Central Alberta

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Toddler breaks leg after boot sucked into escalator at Vancouver airport

VANCOUVER — A Calgary woman is reminding parents about the dangers of… Continue reading

Liberals looking at creating use-it-or-lose-it leave for fathers, Trudeau says

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is raising the idea of creating… Continue reading

Trump gets angry about election meddling, but not at Russia

‘Weirdest thing’: Trump expresses anger, but not over Russian election-meddling

New doping charge could hurt Russia’s chance at reinstatement

Russia could lose its chance to be reinstated before the end of the Winter Olympics because of a doping charge against curling bronze medallist Alexander Krushelnitsky.

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Virtue and Moir break their own world record

Virtue and Moir break short dance record to sit first in ice dance at Olympics

Calgary man dies in Mexico following sudden illness

Troy Black was with his wife, Lindsay, in Puerto Vallarta when he began vomiting blood on Thursday

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month