Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
January 18, 2019
Brooke Henderson fired a four-under par 67 on Friday to grab a two-stroke lead after the second round of the LPGA's season-opening Tournament of Champions.
Ninth-ranked Henderson closed a bogey-free round with seven pars in a row to stand on 10-under 132 after 36 holes at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Ariya Jutanugarn was hot on her heels after firing a second consecutive 67 to share second on 134 alongside New Zealand's 14th-ranked Lydia Ko and South Korea's 32nd-ranked Ji Eun-hee.
Henderson, a 21-year-old who has now gone 34 holes without a bogey, began the day level for the lead with Ji but jumped ahead with birdies at the fourth and par-5 seventh holes, then began the inward nine with back-to-back birdies.
Ariya, who had a bogey-free opening round, took bogeys at the par-3 fifth and 18th holes but sandwiched six birdies in between. She birdied all four par-5 holes -- the seventh, 10th, 13th and 17th -- as well as the par-4 eighth and 16th.
"It was great," Ariya said. "I didn't expect to hit 4-under today, because I was everywhere."
Ko birdied the first and fourth holes before stumbling with a bogey at the fifth. She opened the back nine with a birdie and added another at 13 but bogeyed 15 before answering with a birdie at 17 in the new event, which matches LPGA winners and celebrities from other fields.
"I've just been embracing this format and enjoying playing with these celebrities," Ko said.
Ji shook off a birdie-bogey start and answered a bogey at six with a birdie two holes later, then birdied 13 and 16 and closed with two pars to stay in the second-place pack.
Henderson won last year's LPGA Lotte Championship and Canadian Women's Open to qualify for the Tournament of Champions while Ariya won three times, including her second career major title at the US Women's Open.
LPGA players and celebrities alike seem to be having the times of their lives at the inaugural Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. This unusual format, grouping professional golfers with celebrity athletes and entertainers, has led to flowing smiles from all the players as they leave the golf course.
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn , no stranger to being at the top of her game, enjoyed her Friday stroll with NBA Hall of Famer Ray Allen . She admitted to picking his brain about what it takes to be a successful athlete.
“He told me like, especially, you're a top player, what's your next goal be like? Not only play here and wait for somebody to share with us, but we should have a next goal,” said Jutanugarn. “It means so much to me. Ray is so nice to me.”
The respect was mutual, as Allen spoke glowingly of his inside-the-ropes time with Jutanugarn.
“We've talked about everything. It's interesting to be here and talking with her. She's so friendly, and she's so kind,” said Allen. “She's asked me a lot of questions, how I handle being at the top, how I handle dealing with adversity. You know, I told her a lot of stories, so we definitely had some great conversations out here.”
Nelly Korda enjoyed a quite logical grouping in Thursday's opening round. Korda, the daughter of professional tennis players Petr Korda and Regina Rajchrtova, played with tennis champion and newly minted USA Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish .
“I had two really great groups. They were really fun,” said Korda, who joked about her shared tennis background with Fish. “Yesterday they played unbelievable. I was like, am I the pro here, or are you guys the pro?”
First-round leader Mardy Fish continues to hold the lead in the celebrity portion of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, shooting back-to-back +39s to sit at +78 through two rounds. Fish, a two-time winner of the Diamond Resorts Invitational, holds a one-point lead over MLB Hall of Famer John Smoltz (+77), whose +43 was Friday's best celebrity round, and a six-point advantage over MLB All-Star Mark Mulder (+72).
“I only hit three bad shots, and they happened to be three bad drives. Those were the three bogeys I made. Everything else felt controlled,” said Smoltz, who qualified for the 2018 U.S. Senior Open. “I've been working on my game for the first time to make the proper swing. I'm getting closer and closer to trusting each and every one of them. So in tournament play, hopefully, the more competition I play at a different level will translate.”
The celebrity competition is playing with a Modified Stableford scoring system. A double eagle earns 10 points, an ace earns eight points, an eagle earns five points, a birdie earns three points, a par earns two points, a bogey earns one points and a double bogey or higher earns zero points.
|1||Brooke M. Henderson||-10||65||67||132|
|T11||Sei Young Kim||-4||69||69||138|
|T15||Mi Hyang Lee||-3||68||71||139|
|18||In Gee Chun||-1||70||71||141|
|1||Brooke M. Henderson||-10||67||132|
|T11||Sei Young Kim||-4||69||138|
|T15||Mi Hyang Lee||-3||71||139|
|18||In Gee Chun||-1||71||141|