Brooke Henderson leads at Lake Nona — plus 2 other things to know

Brooke Henderson got off to a hot start at Lake Nona, carding six birdies and holding an early lead at the LPGA’s season opener.

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ORLANDO, Fla. — The 2023 LPGA Tour campaign is officially off and running with the Tournament of Champions kicking off today at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club. Here’s what you need to know about Day 1 from Flrodia.

Brooke Henderson jumps out to early lead

Brooke Henderson’s 2023 season started about as well as she could’ve hoped. In the opening round at Lake Nona, the Canadian poured in six birdies en route to a Thursday 67.

“I’m really excited to be playing here this week,” Henderson said. “[To] shoot five under to start the season off feels really good.”

Henderson has long been one of the LPGA’s brightest stars, but a solid showing in the season-opening event was anything but a guarantee. The 25-year-old went through a variety of changes over the offseason, including singing on as a TaylorMade staffer, and no one would’ve been surprised to see her start the season slow.

But on Thursday, it was quite the opposite. Armed with her new weapons at Lake Nona, Henderson paced the field on Day 1 and holds a one-shot lead heading into Friday.

“I went through a lot of changes in the off-season, but all the clubs worked really well today, which is great,” she said. “Today was a good day. Hopefully just continue it the next three days, and like I said, just make a bunch of birdies and see what happens.”

Nelly Korda stays within striking distance

Much like Henderson, Nelly Korda also made some big changes in the offseason. In addition to signing a TaylorMade club deal, the No. 2-ranked player in the world became a Nike athlete as well.

But, much like Henderson, the changes didn’t seem to have much of an effect on Korda’s game. The 24-year-old posted five birdies in Round 1 on her way to an opening-round 68.

“Overall it was a pretty good day,” Korda said. “New clubs, new season, kind of haven’t been playing, obviously, as much as I would in a season, but I’m happy with today’s round.”

Korda is looking for her second victory in the last three months after going a calendar year between back-to-back victories at the Pelican Women’s Championship. Should she chase down Henderson and claim the title, it would be her ninth overall victory on the LPGA Tour.

The stars are out

The Tournament of Champions might be the season opener on the LPGA circuit, but it’s also a pro-am event with plenty of star power. This week’s field includes the likes of former MLB star John Smoltz, actor Alfonso Ribeiro and comedian Larry the Cable Guy.

With the celebrity aspect of the event, there were plenty of autograph-seekers staking out around the course. And, while the LPGA pros seldom give out their John Hancock during the round, the celebs were a different story.

The walkway between the 9th green and 10th tee was a popular spot for memorabilia collectors who begged for signatures throughout the day. One man even carried an entire binder of baseball cards as he sought out the autographs of a variety of current and former MLB stars.

It’s not often that pro-am participants outshine their pro-golfing counterparts, but at Lake Nona, that’s par for the course.

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.

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