SAMMAMISH, Wash. — The young gun had the low number — one — on No. 13 Thursday in the opening round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club. The ace offered a leg up on the day’s low round, a four-under-par 67, for 18-year-old Canadian Brooke Henderson.
“It really helped a lot,” said Henderson of the hole-in-one, which came on her fourth hole of the round. “It gave me momentum for the rest of the day.”
Henderson was 17 when she won the Cambia Portland Classic last year for her first LPGA title. The ace was the fourth of her life and first on the LPGA Tour.
The golf course passed the Christina Kim test Thursday. The flashy 32-year-old American, a five-time LPGA winner, said of Sahalee: “… (T)he greens are perfect. The fairways are perfect, the rough is perfect and nasty. I can’t rave about this place enough. It screams ‘major,’ and it’s first-class. How much time do you have? This place is perfect.”
Kim wasn’t intimidated: She shot 69, tied for second place two strokes behind Henderson.
Cristie Kerr had an answer for every bad hole — for a while. It started with her first bogey of the day on No. 8, which the 38-year old followed with a par save on a twisty downhill 30-footer after her chip from behind the green barely made it onto the putting surface.
Kerr followed a three-putt bogey on 10 with a one-putt birdie on the par-5 11th, set up by a rocket-launched second shot that left her 10 feet off the green. She couldn’t get up and down from the bunker on 12, but rolled in a 40-footer for birdie on the par-3 13th.
It wasn’t sustainable. On 14, a lackluster drive landed in sticky rough to the right of a fairway bunker, and she hit it thick getting out of it, leading to bogey. This time, she followed bad with worse. Kerr’s second shot on the par-4 15th landed in the trees 40 yards left of the green; her third trickled onto the green, still with 40 feet to save par. She missed that one, then two-putted from five feet for her only double-bogey of the day.
Kerr, who won the Women’s PGA in 2010, closed out her day with two pars and a birdie, the last coming on another 40-foot make on 18. She finished with a one-over 72, after which she signed autographs (left-handed, though she plays golf right-handed) for a cluster of young girls.