The CP Women’s Open used to be designated as one of the LPGA’s major championships, back when it was called the du Maurier Classic.
For Brooke Henderson and the 15 other Canadians teeing it up this week, it still feels like a major, their sixth major.
Henderson electrified Wascana Country Club in Saskatchewan on Friday. It was red-and-white day, with Canadians showing up in force in their national colors.
With another 6-under-par 66, Henderson moved within a shot of Amy Yang (65), the leader.
Rolex world No. 1 Sung Hyun Park was impressed with all the Canadians coming out to see if Henderson can become the first Canadian to win their national championship since Jocelyne Bourassa claimed the inaugural title 45 years ago.
“Brooke is almost like Canada’s Tiger Woods,” Park said.
Henderson fed off the energy.
“To be close to the top of the leaderboard heading into the weekend is awesome, especially when you're here in Canada,” Henderson said.
With a huge gallery around at her finish, Henderson birdied her last hole of the day.
“To see that many people there to watch me finish was incredible,” Henderson said. “I was happy I was able to birdie for them and get to 12 under. It was a great day.”
Park played in the same threesome with Henderson.
“It was like playing in Korea,” Park said of the big turnout.
Henderson isn’t the only player setting up a big weekend finish.
Park and Ariya Jutanugarn are both in the mix, setting up a possible No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in the world rankings.
Park’s 8-under-par 64 moved her three shots off the lead, equaling Jutanugarn (70) after two days. Park won this event last year, and Jutanugarn won it two years ago.
Park took the No. 1 ranking from Jutanugarn winning the Indy Women in Tech Championship last week.
Still, Henderson is the story the strong Canadian following is focusing upon. She’s a long way from her Smiths Falls home, but she’s cheered from coast to coast in her homeland.
“It’s really amazing,” Henderson said. “Coming here, I didn't really expect this many people to be cheering me on. I'm pleasantly surprised, and, hopefully I can just keep playing great golf for them over the weekend.”
Henderson, 20, seeking her seventh LPGA title, her first in Canada, birdied seven holes in a 10-hole stretch in the middle of her round. She said she wasn’t feeling extra pressure with the large following.
“It's a lot of fun, especially when you're playing well,” Henderson said. “You love those cheers, and you love when you hit it. You love when you're walking down the fairway, and you hear your name, and you know that they're all there behind you. I would say it's definitely a lot easier to play in front of them when you're playing really well, so hopefully I keep it up.”