Brooke Henderson gets the 2023 LPGA season off to a hot start with a wire-to-wire four-shot victory
For a week that got off to a chaotic start—a lack of locker access for players at Lake Nona Country Club causing quite the pre-tournament stir—the finish at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions seemed almost serene, Brooke Henderson shooting a closing 70 to cap a four-shot win in the 2023 LPGA season opener.
The 25-year-old Canadian had led after the first three rounds and seemed very much in control of her game en route to her 13th career LPGA title, despite the fact that only the previous weekend she figured out what clubs she was going to be using. Henderson was testing out new TaylorMade equipment that she was going to put in the bag for the first time, signing an endorsement deal that became official on Wednesday.
Beyond testing new equipment, Henderson said she’d spent the off season getting her wisdom teeth out and resting and rehabbing her upper back, which had caused her to withdraw from the Pelican Women’s Championship in early November. At Lake Nona, Henderson said she was pain-free.
“I'm able to swing aggressively and I'm not thinking about it, which is obviously ideal,” Henderson said.
And it showed.
Henderson took the Day 1 lead with a five-under 67, two ahead of Nelly Korda (who coincidentally was also playing her first tournament with TaylorMade clubs in her bag). She followed it with rounds of 66-69 to enter the final round with a three-shot advantage on Korda and Nasa Hataoka.
“Really we never lost too much momentum,” Henderson said. “Just kept chasing birdies and kept taking it further under par.”
Henderson finished at 16-under 262, with Charley Hull and Maja Stark tying for second after each shot three-under 69s. Korda finished in fourth, shooting a Sunday 72 and citing lackluster iron play as the main reason she wasn’t able to catch Henderson.
“I always try to win a couple times each year, so to get one right way out of the gate takes a little bit of pressure off,” said Henderson, who has won an event in eight of nine seasons she's been on tour. “I just love playing out here on the LPGA against the best in the world every week. It's exciting to be in contention and even more exciting to hoist trophies.”
Now, the tour will take a four-week break before heading to Asia, starting the three-tournament swing in Thailand.
The Tournament of Champions is unique in that celebrities play alongside the LPGA Tour players, competing in their own modified stableford tournament. Former professional tennis player Mardy Fish won with 152 points, solidly defeating second-place Mark Moulder who finished with 136 points.
“It's been a blast. Phenomenal week,” Fish said. “It's super fun to watch all of them get their ball around and how they score and stuff. They putt lights out; all of them do. So it's an honor to share the course with them. They're truly incredible golfers.”