June 23, 2017

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Thompson takes 1-shot lead in Meijer Classic, Canada's Henderson tied for second

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Brooke Henderson wasn't complaining about her position on the leaderboard after dropping down into a tie for second place at the Meijer LPGA Classic on Saturday.

The 19-year-old Canadian prefers a bit of a chase on the final day.

"It's actually probably a little bit easier going into Sunday being one shot back," Henderson said. "It's been a packed leaderboard since the very first shot on the first hole. I think anybody could really win this thing.

"There's like a million names within the top 10, so hopefully I can just get out front early and just keep it there."

The Smiths Falls, Ont., native was the leader after each of the first two rounds but had a 67 in the third to drop into a tie for second with Lee-Anne Pace (61), Sung Hyun Park (62) and Jenny Shin (63) at 14 under.

Lexi Thompson shot a 64 on the Blythefield layout reduced to a par of 69 because of flooding, giving her a one-stroke lead.

The fifth hole was played as a 111-yard par 3 instead of a par 5 because of the flooding from overnight rain.

Coming off a playoff loss to Ariya Jutanugarn last week at the Manulife Classic in Cambridge, Ont., Thompson had six birdies — four on the back nine — and a bogey to reach 15-under 196.

"It was just a matter of staying patient," Thompson said. "I knew I was hitting it well on the front nine, I just wasn't making the birdies. But I hit it well all day, so it was all a matter of hitting the shots closer and I guess just taking advantage of like No. 11, reaching that one in two, and making a few putts for birdie."

Her only bogey was on the par-4 seventh.

"It was just a stupid club coming in," she said. "I should have just played short of the green, that's where you have to miss it, and I hit it long. Just a bad miss, stupid mistake."

Thompson won the Kingsmill Championship last month in Virginia for her eighth LPGA Tour title after losing the ANA Inspiration in a playoff after being penalized four strokes for a rules violation reported by a television viewer.

At Rancho Mirage in early April, Thompson was given the four-shot penalty with six holes to play in the final round. She had a 15-inch putt on 17 in the third round when she stooped to mark the ball, and quickly replaced it about an inch away. The television viewer contacted the LPGA Tour the next day, and officials determined it was a clear violation.

Thompson was assessed a two-shot penalty for where she replaced the ball, and because it happened the day before, she received a two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard. She went from a three-shot lead to one shot behind, and eventually lost to So Yeon Ryu in the playoff.

Henderson birdied Nos. 12 and 13 and closed with five pars.

"I made that long one from off the green on 12 that wasn't really expected and that kind of gave me some energy," she said.

Pace had two eagles and five birdies.

"My irons were really good," the South African player said. "Obviously, all the par 3s, that helps. I was looking at birdie almost every hole, which is quite nice. I was never really in trouble except on 10, I missed the drive left, but that was really the only thing. There were a couple of long putts I made, unexpected putts actually. "

Shin made a long putt on No. 14 for her fifth straight birdie. But on 17, she pushed her approach shot and wound up on the bottom of the green, and took her only bogey of the round.

Hyo Joo Kim (65) was 12 under, and Lydia Ko (64), Michelle Wie (64), Moriya Jutanugarn (67) and Carlota Ciganda (68) followed at 11 under. Ko dropped to No. 2 in the world Monday after an 85-week run at the top. The top-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn's younger sister, was 9 under after a 64.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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