Blaine’s Keith Henderson entered his first major golf tournament hoping he could smile after every shot he took.
Though every shot may not have gone the way he would have liked, the smile was definitely still on his face Thursday following the first round of the 2017 U.S. Senior Open at Salem Country Club in Peabody, Massachusetts.
“It was an enjoyable experience,” Henderson said after the conclusion his first competitive round played outside the Pacific Northwest PGA. “ I didn’t get nervous or lose my composure. I enjoyed every bit of it.”
Henderson finished his round at 7-over, shooting a 3-over 38 on the front nine and a 4-over 39 on the back, and stood tied for 139th place at press time, with players still on the course.
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Kirk Triplett, who birdied six holes and eagled another in a bogey-free round, was the first-round leader with an 8-under 62, one stroke ahead of Olin Browne and another in front of Doug Garwood. Tom Lehman, Duffy Waldorf and Kenny Perry were among a group of five tied three shots back at 5-under.
After bogeying the par-4 second hole, Henderson triple bogeyed the par-3 fifth hole to move to 4-over, but he got a shot back by birdying the par-4 eighth. After shooting par on the first three holes of the back nine, Henderson bogeyed four of the next five holes.
But he was pleased with how he played.
“I made some really good putts that I needed to make,” the former head pro at Loomis Trail Golf Course said. “I didn’t make all my putts. I scrambled well. That’s my game on that golf course. I did a pretty good job, I think. Seventy-seven is not bad – a 6 on a par-3 is pretty bad, but I think it could have been a whole lot worse.”
Though Henderson said he really didn’t know much about his two playing partners, Daniel Briggs and Todd McCorkle, coming into the day, he enjoyed watching them play, “hitting it a long ways with irons while I was hitting a 3-wood. I hit some good shots, though, and got some good reactions from the crowd.”
Henderson knows he’ll need a few more good reactions from the gallery during Friday’s second round to make the cut and advance to the weekend.
“I’m going to be more aggressive than I was today,” he said. “I’m going to be a lot more confident and more aggressive. I’m still going to enjoy myself, no matter what happens.”