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CAMBRIDGE, Ont. — Brooke Henderson felt her growing popularity during the first round of the Manulife LPGA Classic.

Chants of “Go Canada Go!” and cheers every time she dropped a putt followed her around the course on Thursday at Whistle Bear Golf Club. But the Smith Falls, Ont., native felt she didn’t give the pro-Canadian crowd much to cheer about in her first round by shooting 1-under par 71 for tie for 86th place.

“It was different. The crowd was more in my favour which was amazing and such an awesome experience,” said Henderson, who is not a full-time LPGA member due to age requirements. She was given a sponsor’s exemption for the tournament. “I’m hoping that the next couple days I’ll play well enough so that the crowd’s not just there to see me play but to see me play really well.”

Henderson was disappointed that she wasn’t able to make all of her shots, but still put a positive spin on the day’s performance.

“It was a bit of up and down all day,” said Henderson. “I didn’t have the day I had hoped for. It was a little but rough, (missing) just a couple short putts early that sort of slowed my momentum down, but it could have been really good. Those couple of putts go in and I have three or four more birdies on the round and that can change a round significantly because you can build and make more birdies.”

It’s been a hectic start of the week leading up to Henderson’s opening round, as she’s had photo shoots and several media requests. While it’s unusual for her, she said that didn’t affect her performance.

“Definitely there is a lot of support and there was a lot more attention than I’m used to on a regular LPGA Tour event, but I enjoyed it and I try to see it as a fun experience and fun opportunity to learn what it’s like,” she said. “Stacy (Lewis) and Lydia Ko and Brittany Lincicome, they get that every week, so I’m hoping I’ll be like them in the future and it’s a learning experience. I think I did a good job in my preparation, I just wasn’t 100 per cent today.

“One-under, I’ll take it if it’s my worst day.”

Henderson, who admits that she is usually aggressive on the golf course, said she held back at certain points when she probably she have just played her usual style.

“The wind wasn’t quite as strong and I think it influenced a couple shot today and a couple lines where I was thinking the wind would be stronger and it was a lot lighter. So I think I could have taken it a little more aggressive on a couple tee shots and a couple approach shots.”

Henderson though, knows it’s just one day of four.

“I’ll just build off today, learn from it and play better tomorrow.”

Bill Doucet, The Canadian Press

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