After going through Monday qualifier, teenager leads by five strokes in Portland event
PORTLAND — Brooke Henderson gave herself some breathing room in her bid for a breakthrough victory.
The 17-year-old Canadian opened a five-stroke lead Saturday in the Cambia Portland Classic, shooting a 7-under 65 at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.
“To get a good round together and try and increase my lead, and definitely just hit good shots. I’m really happy to get it to (18 under), and hopefully tomorrow just improve on that just a little bit,” Henderson said.
She’s trying to join Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson as the only players to win an LPGA Tour title before turning 18.
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On a warm, calm day, Henderson made seven birdies in her bogey-free round. Henderson, who turns 18 in September, tied the tournament 54-hole record of 18-under 198 set by Yani Tseng in 2013. The five-stroke margin is the largest third-round lead on the LPGA Tour this year.
Morgan Pressel was second after a 65.
Henderson, from Smiths Falls, Ontario, also had the 54-hole lead in April in California in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. She closed with a 74 and ended up finishing third. She’ll be banking on that experience Sunday.
“Saturday I wasn’t feeling the nerves, and then Sunday I did. I’ll just have to be aware of that tomorrow,” Henderson said. “It was interesting in San Francisco. I learned a lot about myself and my game, and I think I’ve come leaps and bounds from there early in the season.”
The Canadian tied for fifth in the Women’s U.S. Open and the Women’s PGA Championship, which next June will be held at Sahalee.
A victory Sunday would assure Henderson of finishing among the tour’s top 40 on the money list, giving her an LPGA Tour card for next season. Through nine LPGA Tour tournaments, Henderson has made $466,818.
She earned a spot this week through the Monday qualifier.
Henderson is attempting to become the second Monday qualifier to win an LPGA Tour tournament.
“Brooke is a great player. I mean, to Monday qualify and obviously be playing this well, she knows what’s at stake for her. She’s a great girl, and she has a lot of potential, for sure,” Pressel said.
Former Husky SooBin Kim had a 67 and is tied for 17th at 8-under 208. Another former Husky, Sedena Parks, had a 75 and is tied for 60th at 1-under 215.
• On the other side of Portland, at Portland Golf Club, Hannah O’Sullivan and Sierra Brooks beat fellow teenagers to advance to the U.S. Women’s Amateur final. The 17-year-old O’Sullivan, from Chandler, Ariz., rallied to beat 17-year-old Mathilda Cappeliez of France, 1 up, and the 17-year-old Brooks, from Sorrento, Fla., topped 18-year-old UCLA freshman Bethany Wu of Diamond Bar, Calif., 4 and 2.