Defending champ Brooke Henderson 1 shot back at CP Women Open - Canadanewsmedia
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Defending champ Brooke Henderson 1 shot back at CP Women Open

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Brooke Henderson

Canada’s Brooke Henderson is quite comfortable in the role of defending champion.

She showed why during a strong opening round Thursday morning at Magna Golf Club.

Henderson fired a 6-under-par 66 for a two-shot clubhouse lead before American Annie Park set a competitive course record at 7-under 65 in the afternoon group to take sole possession of first.

With impressive length off the tee and a putting stroke that was reliable, the 21-year-old Henderson from Smiths Falls, Ont., displayed the same form that carried her to victory a year ago in Regina.

“It’s nice to be in a position where I had a good round, everything seemed to go right for me,” Henderson said. “Hopefully I can continue to stick to my game plan, make a lot of birdies, and I would love to be in this position on Sunday.”

WATCH | Brooke Henderson has solid 1st round:

Watch Brooke Henderson’s best shots, as she fired a 6-under 66 to take the clubhouse lead in the opening round of the CP Canadian Women’s Open. 1:22

Park didn’t know that she was making history at the exclusive Magna Golf Club, instead hoping for a career-low 64. She didn’t feel bad about stealing Henderson’s thunder, either.

“Brooke is a phenomenal player and not only that, she’s a great person. She’s such a sweetheart. I can see why the fans love her,” said Park. “I was focused on my own game out there and tried to play my best.”

Park wasn’t the only one to gain ground on Henderson in the afternoon. Quebec City’s Anne-Catherine Tanguay, Jin Young Ko, Nicole Broch Larsen and Pajaree Anannarukarn also shot 6-under 66 to enter into a five-way tie for second.

Cool, breezy conditions greeted players with morning tee times like Henderson, who has successfully defended titles on two occasions over her LPGA Tour career.

The 6,709-yard course has wide fairways and sets up nicely for big hitters. Henderson, who’s ninth on the Tour in average driving distance, gave herself opportunities and took advantage.

Simplicity kept Henderson on the fairway for most of the day. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press )

“For me when I’m playing well, (it’s) my ball striking, hitting a lot fairways, greens, and then just hoping I’m making some putts too,” she said.

Henderson said she felt calm on the first tee as dozens of supportive fans lined the block area. She crushed her opening drive and was on her way to a solid front nine that included four birdies.

Her lone hiccup came on the 399-yard, par-4 fourth hole after her drive found a bunker. Henderson, who settled for bogey, missed only one other fairway on the day and hit 16 of 18 greens.

“I just tried to keep things really simple,” she said. “When I showed up this morning it was really cold and windy and I was like, ‘Uh oh.’ But in the back of my head it was also sort of like Sunday last year, so I figured it might not be a bad thing.”

WATCH | Brooke Henderson breaks down her game:

Professional golfer and defending CP Women’s Open Champion Brooke Henderson walks us through the thought process and strategies of a par 4 golf hole. 2:34

Henderson closed with a 65 at Wascana Country Club in 2018 to become the first Canadian winner of this event in 45 years.

She was rewarded for her aggressive play at that tournament, but had to be more careful here with swirling winds making club selection more challenging.

After setting up on the par-3, 167-yard 17th, Henderson returned to her bag and had another chat with her sister and caddie Brittany. With a tough pin position behind a greenside pond, Henderson decided to play it safe by landing on the right side of the green and then two-putting for par.

Henderson pulled her drive on the 18th hole but rebounded with one of her best shots of the round. With a favourable lie in the rough, she elevated the ball nicely, cleared a bunker in front of the green and stuck the ball within four feet.

She hit the birdie putt to the delight of the partisan gallery.

“All the birdies pretty much fell for me today, which is a great feeling,” Henderson said. “It’s going to be hard to back up. Hopefully I’ll go out and keep hitting it well.”

Henderson has won nine career LPGA Tour events, a record for Canadians on the PGA or LPGA Tours. She’s sixth on the LPGA money list this year.

Fifteen Canadians and 96 of the top 100 money winners on the LPGA Tour this year are in the field at the US$2.25-million tournament. The winner will earn $337,500.

The 156-player list will be trimmed to low 70s and ties after Friday’s second round. Favourable weather conditions were expected through the weekend.

Unlike last year, domestic television coverage is available for all four rounds with TSN and RDS picking up a simulcast of the Golf Channel feed.

However, only three hours of coverage are provided each day. The early afternoon cutoff on Thursday came just before Henderson finished her round.

The 2018 tournament was the first year in recent memory that a Canadian sports network did not broadcast the event or pick up the simulcast.

When Henderson led after 54 holes last year, Bell Media and Golf Channel reached an agreement to allow Canadian viewers to watch the last three hours of the final round.

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Pospisil, Shapovalov engineer Canada historic win over U.S. at Davis Cup

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Canada is heading to the quarter-finals at the inaugural Davis Cup Finals after sweeping a pair of singles matches against the United States on Tuesday.

Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., clinched the victory in the best-of-three tie, beating Taylor Fritz 7-6 (6), 6-3.

Shapovalov, ranked a career-high 15th in the world, finished off No. 32 Fritz with an ace.

Earlier, Vancouver’s Vasek Pospisil recorded his second major upset in as many days when the world No. 150 beat No. 36 Reilly Opelka 7-6 (5), 7-6 (7).

Later, Americans Sam Querrey and Jack Sock took the doubles match against Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime in a walkover.

Canada (2-0) has now clinched Group F after winning all four of its singles matches against the Americans and Italy.

Seven of the nine sets in singles matches went to tiebreaks, with Canada winning six of them.

It was Canada’s first win against the U.S., in 16 Davis Cup ties. Canada had a match record of 3-70 against the Americans entering Tuesday.

Vasek Pospisil celebrates his upset victory over Reilly Opelka of the U.S. on Tuesday at the Davis Cup Finals in Spain. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The 29-year-old Pospisil, from Vancouver, beat world No. 12 Fabio Fognini on Monday en route to Canada’s 2-1 win over Italy. Pospisil was a late replacement for Felix Auger-Aliassime (recovering from an ankle injury) against Italy.

The six-foot-11 Opelka, known for his big serve, fought off one match point against Pospisil in the second set to tie it at 6-6. But Pospisil rebounded to end it in two sets.

Pospisil, who reached a career-high No. 25 in the rankings in 2014, tumbled down the list after missing the first half of 2019 following back surgery.

But he has shown signs of progress in recent months, upsetting then-No. 9 Karen Khachanov at the U.S. Open before advancing to the round of 16 at the Shanghai Masters.

Playing a level down in Challengers earlier this fall, Pospisil captured two tournament titles in the U.S.

WATCH | Canada upsets Italy at Davis Cup: 

Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil notched a pair of upsets to lead Canada to a win over Italy on the opening day of the inaugural Davis Cup Finals. 1:52

Pospisil is now 19-18 in Davis Cup play.

Shapovalov, 20, also has been on a roll. He captured his first career ATP Tour title at the Stockholm Open last month before reaching the final of the Paris Masters.

The winners of each of the six groups and the next two best teams advance to the quarterfinals. Canada will face either Belgium or Australia in the next round.

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Don Cherry comes back with a new show

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They may have knocked Don Cherry to the ice with a hit he didn’t see coming.

Now watch him get back up.

You people out there who want the 85-year-old Cherry back, here’s the news you have been hoping for.  You people who wanted him to fade away are out of luck as the former NHL coach of the year is going to be able to exercise his free speech, after all.

Don Cherry’s Grapevine is back once again. This time as a podcast.

Coach’s Corner may be “no more” as his one-time Hockey Night in Canada sidekick Ron MacLean announced on Saturday. Cherry was fired by Rogers and Sportsnet for his “you people” who “come here” comment that was misunderstood and later spun as discriminatory.

Cherry wanted his opportunity to properly explain it. Now he is going to get that chance.

You read it right: Don Cherry and his no-holds-barred views are coming back on the air.

The Toronto Sun has learned you won’t have to wait long for the first installment of the new Grapevine. It will drop Tuesday morning and be available on Spotify and other streaming services every Monday during the hockey season.

And yes, the very first one will address Cherry’s firing from Sportsnet.

“But that’s not all we talked about,” Cherry told me Monday. “We are talking hockey, of course. It’s going to be terrific. In this one I am talking about The Rocket (Maurice Richard), one of the all-time greats.”

One thing for sure about the new show is MacLean will not be in his foxhole.

So who will be?

You may have noticed the word “we” in Don’s comments and since so many scrutinize every word he says and what he means by it, I asked.

Turns out Grapes has a new co-host. And perhaps hosts.

“My son, Tim, is going to do it with me and my grandson Del,” said Grapes. 

At least he knows they won’t turn on him when the waters get rough as MacLean did.

“They did great,” Don said of Tim and Del. ”I think people are really going to enjoy this one and the ones we do down the road.”

Tim Cherry tells me the plan is to tape and post it every Monday.

“That way we cover off what happened on the weekend in hockey,” said Tim. “It’s going to be fun.”

For Don’s fans, who are already missing him and unlikely to tune into whatever Sportsnet comes up with to replace the 38-year-old segment, this will give them the opportunity to hear what he has to say. For Don himself, it will connect him with the hockey fans and players he loves while getting back on horse quickly.

It will be in audio broadcast to start with but Tim says it could grow into a TV-style show with cameras and sponsors.

If The Grapevine title sounds familiar it’s because Don’s television show, which Tim produced, was on the air from 1982-93 — filmed in Hamilton.

The new project will feature Don talking about the NHL and hockey and whatever he wants without any censorship.

If he wants to talk about poppies, he can do it without being fired. If he wants to talk about the troops or cops or firefighters or honour the fallen, no one can tell him to keep his nose out of it.

Mostly the plan is to talk hockey. And he won’t have just seven minutes to get it all out.

“The first podcast is about half an hour,” said Tim.

But if they ever find themselves in a position to need more time, or less, the beauty of podcasts is there are no constricting rules.

It also keeps Grapes in game shape while he considers other potential TV offers and opportunities.

Mostly it’s just the perfect outlet for Don Cherry to do what he does best: Be Don Cherry.

Yes Coach’s Corner is over: The new Grapevine has just been planted. Just call this the coach’s comeback! 

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Injuries sideline Habs Drouin, Byron indefinitely

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Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron will be out of the lineup indefinitely as the result of injuries they suffered in Friday night’s win over the Capitals in Washington.

Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron will be out of the lineup indefinitely as the result of injuries they suffered in Friday night’s win over the Capitals in Washington.

Drouin underwent wrist surgery on Monday, and Byron is scheduled to undergo knee surgery on Tuesday.

“We’ll a better idea of a timeline after the surgery,” coach Claude Julien said after the Canadiens practised in preparation for Tuesday’s road game against the Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).

The Canadiens recalled Charles Hudon from Laval. He played Saturday against New Jersey and was sent back to the minors after the game.

Julien said Carey Price will start in goal, and he will wait to decide on a goaltender for Wednesday’s home game against the Ottawa Senators.

phickey@postmedia.com

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