They’ve pushed each other on the golf course for much of their lives. Thursday was no different for Brittany and Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ontario as they played out the third and final round of a SunCoast Women’s Series Tour event just west of Orlando, Florida.
Starting the day with a two stroke lead older sister Brittany, 24 and a newly minted member of the Symetra Tour via the recent LPGA Q-School, pushed that margin to four strokes early in the day.
By the time crunch time came, the back nine, Brooke made her charge. The 17 year-old, with Canadian National Team Women’s Coach Tristan Mullally by her side as caddy, used a trio of birdies on the 10th through 12th holes to take the lead.
By the 15th the pair was in full battle mode, tied for first place.
Brittany, with their father Dave on the bag, countered back with a near hole out second shot on the 16th hole of the West Orange Country Club, tapping in the resulting three foot putt for a birdie and a one stroke lead.
As they headed down the 18th they were exactly where a Hollywood script would have them, tied for the lead, after Brittany had bogeyed the 17th.
Both hit the fairway with their drives on the par four 18th but Brooke grabbed the edge with an approach shot tight to the flag. Brittany missed the green and was left with six feet for par.
Brooke calmly rolled in the 10 footer for her first win as a professional, posting scores of 71, 73 and 69. Brittany converted the par to earn second place alone (71, 71, 72) while 5-time LPGA winner Maria Hjorth took third.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Brooke about the duel with her older sibling. “She (Brittany) was playing great. We both had our ups and downs all day, a few birdies and a few bogies on the card, but the last birdie putt, on the last hole, I was able to make and get the one shot advantage. We rode together in the same cart today. It was just a great time with Britt.”
Asked how surreal it was to be tied with her sister and acknowledged golf hero on the tee of the 54th hole Brooke admitted there was no concession between the two, who, when it comes down to it, just love to compete. “Yeah, it was a pretty cool feeling actually. We both battled really hard and gave it our all, all day.”
Although this was the 4th professional event that Brooke has won, this was the first time she could profit from a victory. “It’s nice to finally be able to cash a cheque,” joked Canada’s top ranked professional female golfer. Her first win as a professional (she turned pro on December 18th) earned her $2,200.
Although she came out second in the situation Brittany, who was a winner on the same tour last year, still felt somewhat positive about the day. “It was fun. I was mostly just trying to make birdies rather than beat her,” she noted, referring to Brooke. “It was nice to play together in a final group. I was hitting the ball really well the last couple days.”
Both sisters will now head to the Bahamas . Rather than being rivals there, they will be a team.
Brooke will attempt to qualify for the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic while Brittany will take on the role of caddy. With the choice of taking trying to qualify herself Brittany chose the alternate route which will see her little sister foot the bill for the trip expenses.
Apparently in the Henderson family, more years as a pro also comes with a dash of extra wisdom.
Nicole Vandermade, the only other Canadian in the field, tied for 6th place.