Canadian Henderson excited for Manulife LPGA Classic (Jun 7, 2017)

BY AP • June 7, 2017

Canadian Brooke Henderson will be one of the favorites this week as the LPGA Tour heads north of the border for the sixth playing of the Manulife LPGA Classic.

The tournament tees off Thursday at Whistle Bear Golf Club in Cambridge, Ontario. It will feature four of the top six players in the world as well as Henderson, who is ranked 15th, and 12 others from Canada.

The event, the 14th on the LPGA Tour season, is the first of two set for Canada this year. The field is headed by world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand and includes In-Kyung Kim of South Korea, the winner of last week's ShopRite LPGA Classic in New Jersey. Those two will compete against three past Manulife LPGA Classic champions, all after a total purse of $1.7 million.

The tournament field also features 24 of the 37 LPGA Tour rookies this year, the most to tee it up at a single tournament this season. England's Hannah Burke, Min-G Kim of South Korea and Krista Puisite of Latvia are making their LPGA Tour debut as members.

The Manulife LPGA Classic is the third of a stretch of tournaments over 12 consecutive weeks for the LPGA Tour, which is its most intensive run of events on its schedule. There has never been a repeat winner of the tournament, while the 2017 LPGA season also has yet to feature a repeat winner as well.

This week marks Henderson's third appearance in her home country, and she likes her odds.

"I haven't had a great finish here yet but I really like the course and I think it's going to set up well for my game this week," the Ontario native said. "Of course there is going to be a little bit more pressure because I'm Canadian, but I love big crowds. I love playing in front of all my fans. I hope a lot of people come out and a lot of people support, and hopefully I can put on a good show for them."

It's been 26 starts since Henderson has won on the LPGA Tour, but she says that's no cause for panic.

"Hopefully once I feel the rush of the fans and feel their positive energy, I can continue to improve and get better and get back to having some top-10 finishes," Henderson said. "Coming home, seeing fans, I want to really show them how much I appreciate their support every single week."

Germany's Caroline Masson is the tournament's defending champion. She picked up her first LPGA Tour victory here in 2016 by defeating France's Karine Icher and South Korea's Minjee Lee and Mi Hyang Lee by one stroke after starting the final round three shots back of the lead and forging 6-under 66 to garner the win.

Masson hasn't won since hoisting the trophy here last year, but in 10 starts this season she has made eight cuts and posted four top-25 finishes, including a season-best tie for 10th at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

"Obviously this week is really special to me," Masson said. "It's my first time defending, and I'm just trying to soak it all in and trying to bring back those memories and those feelings that I had last year winning. But after that, it's just another golf tournament. I have to focus on my golf and get that mindset that obviously I want to win this week, like I want to every week."

ANA Inspiration champion and World No. 3 So Yeon Ryu of South Korea holds a narrow lead in the season-long current Race to the CME Globe standings with 1,695 points. Jutanugarn, the reigning series champion, is close behind with 1,628, followed by Lexi Thompson (1,486) and Cristie Kerr (1,233).


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