Henderson wins in Hawaii for 6th LPGA Tour title

  • Brooke Henderson hits from the 17th tee during the final round of the LPGA Lotte Championship golf tournament Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Kapolei, Hawaii. (Jamm Aquino/The Star-Advertiser via AP)

KAPOLEI, Hawaii — For the final two days of the Lotte Championship, it was pretty clear that the only player who could beat Brooke Henderson was Brooke Henderson.

She wasn’t about to let it happen Saturday at windy Ko Olina Golf Club, where she won by four shots. The Canadian was too talented, and she had some very important people to play for, dedicating her victory to the people involved in the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team bus crash in Saskatchewan.

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“It’s extremely sad, a terrible tragedy what happened up there,” Henderson said. “I know it kind of affected my whole country. Everybody really took it kind of personally.

“For all the survivors that are still fighting through it and all the ones that have passed away, I want to show them that we’re here for them and we’re supporting them. They’re always going to be in our thoughts and prayers.”

Henderson, who won’t be 21 until September, won her sixth LPGA Tour title, leaving her just two short of Sandra Post for most wins by a Canadian player.

She collected $300,000, giving her nearly $500,000 this year and $4 million in her three-year career. Her final-round 3-under 69 left her at 12 under, four ahead of Azahara Munoz, whose 67 was the low round on a very difficult scoring day.

It was Munoz’s best finish in more than four years. Henderson and sixth-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were the only other golfers to break 70 on a day that featured rain squalls and winds gusting to 30 mph.

“Crazy windy again” said Henderson, who was third in greens in regulation (52 of 72) and sixth in driving distance (288.8) for the week. “Just being able to adjust to it, kind of stay poised in it. Things aren’t going to always go perfectly, but I felt like my ball striking was probably the best it’s ever been.”

Jutanugarn tied for third, five back, with top-ranked Shanshan Feng (71) and third-ranked Inbee Park (72), who bogeyed the last two holes.

Henderson came into the week ranked 14th and in a comfort zone. She has never finished worse than 11th at Ko Olina.

At the halfway point, she was 10 under, bogey-free and two shots ahead. That stretched to five at the turn Friday, before putting problems brought the field back into it.

Henderson led by just one heading into the final day. She played the first 11 holes Saturday in 2 under to carve out a three-shot advantage, then faltered again. Her only bogey came on the 12th and she missed a short birdie putt at the next hole.

This time she recovered quickly, hitting driver-driver within 20 yards of the 14th green, then sinking a short birdie putt. She drained a 10-footer for another birdie one the 16th, where she four-putted Friday.

“Mentally I was in a great spot this week,” Henderson said. “I missed a couple putts, which you could argue that mentally I wasn’t there because of a couple mishits, but I think to recover from that and kind of put it in the past and then go out and make some more birdies. And, being the leader since early Thursday, that does add a little of pressure.”

Munoz and Jutanugarn put together the only serious charges of the final round. Both came up a few holes short.

Munoz, who has struggled with illness injury the past few years, climbed 13 places the final day. She was two shots back after her fifth birdie of the day, at the 14th, but parred in.

Jutanugarn, from Thailand, secured her fifth Top 10 this year but couldn’t get the eighth victory of her career. At the turn, the 2016 Player of the Year was 3 under and three back. She parred her final 11 holes.

Hawaii’s Michelle Wie tied for 11th after shooting 71.

PGA Tour

Poulter takes RBC Heritage lead

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — The resurgent Ian Poulter shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the RBC Heritage, putting him in position for his second victory in three weeks.

Before April, Poulter had not won on tour in more than five years. Now, he’s one more solid round away from adding another title to his dramatic win at the Houston Open on April 1.

No joke, Poulter’s play is for real.

Seven of the Englishman’s last 11 rounds have been in the 60s after having just three such showings in his first 20 rounds this season. His latest left him at 13-under 200, and a stroke ahead of Luke List (67) and Si Woo Kim (68).

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson failed to make a move and, after a 72, was tied for 41st, 10 shots behind.

PGA Tour Champions

Flesch wins 1st title after 38-hole final

DULUTH, Ga. — Steve Flesch needed 38 holes Saturday to win the Mitsubishi Electric Classic for his first PGA Tour Champions victory.

The 50-year-old Flesch birdied the second hole of a playoff with Scott Parel at TPC Sugarloaf in the event completed a day early because of forecast rain and lightning. Bernhard Langer dropped out on the first extra hole.

Parel bogeyed the par-5 18th on the second playoff hole after his approach hit the bank short and left and went into the water. Flesch hit long and right into the back bunker, and blasted out to 3 feet. The left-hander won in his 22nd start on the 50-and-over tour after winning four times on the PGA Tour.

Facing a forecast of 1 1/2 inches of rain overnight Sunday and the threat of lightning Sunday, tournament officials decided Friday to play both the second and third rounds Saturday.

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Flesch and Parel birdied the 18th to start the playoff. Flesch and Parel each reached the green in two, with Parel leaving a 60-foot eagle try 3 feet short, and Flesch rolling a 50-footer to a foot. Langer laid up and missed a 15-foot birdie try.

Parel matched the course record with an 8-under 64, making a 15-foot birdie putt on 18 in regulation to post at 11 under. Flesch and Langer missed chances to win on 18 in regulation. Flesch missed a long eagle try, and Langer’s 15-foot birdie putt went to the left. Flesch shot 68, and Langer had a 69.