In the past two months Brittany Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ontario has been agonizingly close. In four events on the Florida-based Sun Coast Ladies Tour she has not been out of the top 12 and hit as high as 4th place.
On Thursday though, it was her time to shine as she picked up her first win as a professional, taking top honours at the Black Bear Golf Club in Eustis, Florida.
Coming in to the day two strokes behind after rounds of 69, 73, and 70 Henderson hopped out to a fast start with an opening 33. That not only erased the lead of American Karlin Beck but propelled the Coastal Carolina graduate and collegiate all-conference player into a two stroke lead. It was one she would not relinquish.
She ended the tournament with a round of 70 (-6 total), giving her a win by a just a two stroke margin. The tight finish was only created by Henderson making a double on the tough 18th hole.
In a windy conditions it was a remarkable final round. Only one other player in the field recorded a score under par on the day.
Among the other players in the field was 5-time LPGA Tour winner Maria Hjorth, who finished 4th in a share of 4th, 9 strokes back.
Henderson, who is contemplating an attempt at LPGA TOUR Qualifying this Fall, was ecstatic with the victory and gave credit to her driving, and her sister, for helping her play well.
“I just played much better this week,” she conveyed by phone just minutes after holing out on the 72nd hole. “It was back to more of what my expectations are. I drove the ball really well and I think that was the key.”
On the greens Henderson was also no slouch with six birdies in the final round. Key birdies on the 14th (about 30 feet) and the 17th (just five feet) gave her the margin she needed to make the double bogey on the final hole inconsequential.
“Having Brooke (her 16 year-old sister and 2013 Canadian Women’s Amateur Champion) on the bag was great. On the greens we were getting the same reads. Having her confirm what I was seeing made it much easier to just go ahead and hit the putts.”
Brittany shared that although she won a minor men’s pro tournament before this is the one that really counts for her. “I’d say this is really my first win. It feels great. It is just so awesome; I’m so happy right now!”
For her victory Brittany earned $5,000 (USD). This will end her five tournament run on the Sun Coast Series Tour as she and her little sister will head back to Canada after a short deke to Disney World and a celebration with some cousins who were there to watch her victory.
The pair will change roles next month when Brittany becomes the caddy for Brooke who is an amateur invitee at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the 1st LPGA TOUR major Championship of the season.
Asked about the possibility of continuing the Henderson sister win streak in Rancho Mirage Brittany laughed and quipped, “Wouldn’t that be nice. We’ll sure try.”