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Henderson tames strong winds to grab lead in Bahamas

Brooke Henderson endured extremely windy conditions to shoot a 5-under 68 on Thursday and grab a one-shot lead after the first round of the season-opening Pure-Silk LPGA Bahamas.

Playing in the afternoon wave on the Ocean Club Golf Course, Henderson began on the back nine, where players faced consistent 25 mph winds throughout the day. The 20-year-old Canadian, who has dropped to No. 14 in the Rolex Rankings, managed to make her turn at 2-under, then poured in three more birdies on her closing nine for a bogey-free round.

Henderson is one shot clear of Luna Sobron Galmes and Sarah Jane Smith, who held the lead through much of the morning wave before missing a birdie putt on No. 18 that would have gotten her to 5-under.

Players were routinely hitting three to four clubs more than their typical yardages would dictate when hitting into the strong winds.

“It’s up there. It’s equal to the toughest we’ve had,” Smith told the Golf Channel about how Thursday ranked in her experiences at the event. “It was tough out there, we had to be pretty creative … We were hitting some pretty weird numbers.”

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng opened her 2018 season with a bogey on the first hole, but quickly steadied the ship with a birdie on No. 2. She added three more birdies, including one on the closing 18th hole, to finish at 3-under. Also at 3-under are Americans Danielle Kang and Lindsey Weaver, Jing Yan, Katherine Kirk and Maria Torres.

“Normally I like playing in the wind, because I’m pretty good at it,” said Feng. “Today wasn’t 100 percent, but still a red score. 3-under is really, really good in these conditions.”

Fourth-ranked Lexi Thompson is returning from a lengthy layoff to rest a hand injury. Thompson, who lost in a playoff against Brittany Lincicome in this event last year, shot a 1-under 72. She is in a pack of players that includes Amy Yang and Nelly Korda.

Another shot back is Michelle Wie, who is coming off yet another injury-plagued season. She made the turn at even par and then endured an eventful back nine that included an eagle and pair of bogeys in the windy conditions.

“It really wasn’t easy, but it was a lot of fun,” Wie said of kicking off her 2018 season. “I feel very energized, just being out here and being healthy. All I can ask for is the opportunity to give it my all. I just want to be focused, just put everything into the season, and just to be healthy enough to do that.”

Lincicome worked to keep a smile after struggling to a 1-over 73 during the morning wave. She’s tied with third-ranked So Yeon Ryu and a host of others six shots off the pace.

“It’s one of those days where you just hit and you smile because if you get frustrated you’re probably going to shoot 100,” said Lincicome. “It’s one of those things, you can’t get ready for this. You just take it one hole at a time and see what happens.”

Other notable scores included Moriya Jutanugarn (2-over), I.K. Kim (3-over), Ariya Jutanugarn (3-over) and Stacy Lewis (5-over).

Second-ranked Sung Hyun Park, No. 5 In Gee Chun, No. 7 Anna Nordqvist, No. 9 Cristie Kerr and No. 10 Lydia Ko are not in the field this week.

–Field Level Media

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