Annie Park leads CP Women's Open; Brooke Henderson 1 back

Brooke Henderson leaves gunslinger game in the bag and launches CP Women’s Open title defence with a 66

Brooke Henderson leaves gunslinger game in the bag and launches CP Women’s Open title defence with a 66

Canada's Brooke Henderson got off to a strong start in her title defence at the CP Women's Open. Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn was 11 when she tied for 51st in the 2007 Honda LPGA Thailand, and the United States' Lucy Li was 11 when she missed the cut at the 2014 U.S. Women's Open.

And it paid off handsomely.

Calm, collected and steely eyed, the 21-year-old nine-time LPGA Tour victor showed neither nerves nor exuberance on this day, aware that despite the early statement she made there are many holes by many golfers left to be played. Fairways and greens. Taking a conservative line on her opening drive of the tournament immediately paid dividends, as it sailed right of her target with the wind but still stayed on the fairway and covered the troublesome fairway bunker. Did she have trouble getting to sleep on Wednesday?

"It looks like they've stuck to their game plan".

The 21-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ont., became the first Canadian since 1973 to win the national women's open last year when she captured the title in Regina.

"I can see why the fans love her", said Park. "So I figured it might not be a bad thing". Her birdie on the final hole came after she knocked her drive into the rough. Young men in National Basketball Association jerseys shouting her name.

"It's nice to be in a position where I had a good round, everything seemed to go right for me".

An underlying theme to this year's tournament is the unofficial competition between her and tennis ace Bianca Andreescu, who recently won the Rogers Cup not far away at the tennis venue on the campus of York University.

"It was very exciting to be able to play in this sort of environment", said Liu, who was fighting tears of frustration while speaking with reporters.

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"Standing on 18 and seeing all the people who come out to watch her play is fantastic", said Lewis.

"Brooke is a phenomenal player and not only that, she's a great person". The conditions were favourable with players being met by a light breeze in the morning.

Her 66 matched the opening round she shot past year at the CP Women's Open, which, of course, she went on to win.

With five Canadians now full-time on the LPGA Tour, they naturally have chose to stick together. "It's going to be hard to back up", she said. It was maybe the only ball that didn't drop on the inward nine for the third-year LPGA player, as Tanguay said afterwards that she was laughing to herself while lining up a 20-footer on the par-3 eighth because she just knew she was going to make it. Make it she did, banging the ball off the flagstick she left in the hole to a round of applause from family and friends, the late afternoon crowds at Magna GC understandably thinning.

Henderson, needless to say, was the star attraction of any nationality on the day.

"Tough 17th hole, tough break there; had a bogey".

Even more momentum-building than the birdies were a pair of medium-length putts to save par in the early going, the kind of makes that help any golfer feel like they can get away with the odd mistake and still flourish.

She hit the birdie putt to the delight of the partisan gallery. Of course, everyone else at Magna on Thursday was wildly impressed with her game. On Thursday, it was equal parts business and laughter, and had you not known the circumstance it could have been mistaken for just another of the thousands of rounds they've played together.

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