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17th August 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

SA pair falter while Henderson sizzles in Portland

GWP_2871_AshleighSimon_SLTSouth Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace and Ashleigh Simon battled at the weekend in the Cambia Portland Classic, but Canadian qualifier Brooke Henderson hit her stride to capture her first LPGA Tour victory in style.

Simon was inside the top 40 with solid rounds of 71, 72 and 70 and got to three under with a birdie at 16 on Sunday, but she dealt her fine efforts a big blow when she finished with back-to-back bogeys at 17 and 18 at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

The Wanna Be A Champion player signed off with a 74 to finish in joint 60th on one under 287.

Pace also started well with an opening 67, but the LPGA Tour champion plummeted to a tie for 69th on two-over-par 290 with further rounds of 75, 74 and 74.

Compatriot Paula Reto missed the cut, set at one over 142, despite a valiant attempt to reverse the damage of an opening 79 with a 72 in the second rounds.

Henderson fired a final round 69 to blaze to an eight-stroke victory and finished with a tournament record total of 21 under par.

She not only surpassed Suzann Pettersen’s 20 under par set in 2013 and became the first Canadian champion since Lorie Kane at the LPGA Takefuji Classic in 2001, but the 17-year-old Ontario-born player joined Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson as the third teenager to win on the LPGA Tour event before the age of 18.

“It’s amazing,” Henderson said. “It’s such an unbelievable thing it’s not even real life yet I don’t think.”

“I tried to just keep making more birdies. I had a number in mind, and I was trying to chase after it, and I was trying not to watch the girls I was playing with or any other players.

“To get that and for Canadian fans and Canadian support that I’ve received over the last couple months and last couple years is unbelievable, so I’m happy to bring one home for Canada.”

Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum, Taiwan’s Candie Kung and Jang Ha-Na of South Korea finished in a three-way tie for second at 13 under.

The LPGA Tour travels to Canada this week where Henderson will hunt for success on home soil in the CP Women’s Open in Vancouver, while the South African trio will regroup to seek strong performances.

Meanwhile Vicky Hurst carded a three-under-par 69 to claim her fifth Symetra Tour victory in the W.B. Mason Championship in Massachusetts on Sunday.

The American finished at 13-under-par 200 at the Thorny Lea Golf Club in Brockton, three strokes clear of compatriot Brittany Benvenuto and Alejandra Llaneza from Mexico.

PHOTO – Ashleigh Simon; credit Matthew Withers – Action Pix/Lexar