Saso finishes strong for 1-shot lead in Vancouver

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Yuka Saso had a big second nine to shoot a 6-under 66 and take the first-round lead Thursday in the CPKC Women’s Open, while Canadian star Brooke Henderson struggled while playing in glasses for the first time on the LPGA Tour.

Even par at the turn at tree-lined — and mosquito-infested — Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club, Saso birdied Nos. 1-4 and 6-7, playing her second nine in 6-under 30. The 22-year-old Japanese player won the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open for her lone LPGA Tour title.

“I don’t know what happened the back nine,” Saso said. “I started hitting some good second shots and having short putts for birdies, giving myself a lot of chances.”

Saso tried to be patient with the mosquitoes.

“The bug spray helped a lot,” she said. “The wind, too.”

Henderson, the 2018 winner at Wascana in Regina, Saskatchewan, opened with a 75. Playing in the afternoon, she had four bogeys and a birdie.

“I just wasn’t sharp today,” Henderson said. “Hopefully, just go out tomorrow morning early, get off to a quick start, make more birdies.”

She has long worn glasses off the course but hadn’t played in them.

“At least I could see my ball in the bush, which was kind of a good thing, I guess,” Henderson said.

Linn Grant was second after an afternoon 67. The 24-year-old Swede rebounded from a bogey on the par-5 11th with birdies on the next four holes. She won the Dana Open in July in Ohio for her first LPGA Tour title.

“I didn’t feel very confident with my swing going out,” Grant said. “But I managed to kind of find something. You know, golf is golf. You got to just kind of go with what you have.”

Canadian Alena Sharp was at 69 with Rose Zhang, 2019 winner Jin Young Ko, Weiwei Zhang, Sei Young Kim and Danielle Kang.

“To be honest, the start was a little shaky,” Sharp said. “I was a little nervous. You got to kind of put your blinders on out here. Fairways are narrow.”

The 20-year-old Zhang won the Mizuho Americas Open in June at Liberty National in her first professional start.

“You can never be too comfortable, especially on this golf course,” Zhang said. “Every day the conditions are going to be changing.”

Nelly Korda topped the group at 70.

“It’s really tight off the tee,” Korda said. “Really small greens. And a side of a lot of mosquitoes.”

Canadian amateur Brooke Rivers had a 71. The 18-year-old will be a freshman at Wake Forest.

“I’m feeling good.” Rivers said. “Stuck to the plan and hit some good shots.”

Three-time winner Lydia Ko shot a 72. She won at Vancouver Golf Club in 2012 and 2015. Race to CME Globe leader Lilia Vu also had a 72.

Lexi Thompson opened with a 76. She’s No. 157 in the Race to CME Globe and in danger of losing her LPGA card without having to use a one-time career money exemption.

Defending champion Paula Reto shot 78.

Canadian sisters Maddie and Ellie Szeryk were paired together, with Maddie shooting a 73 and Ellie a 77.

Shaughnessy was originally set to host the event in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed it by three years.

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