Many predicted that Brooke Henderson would one day win on the LPGA Tour. Few could have surmised that it would happen at the age of 17 and that the victory would come by an eight stroke margin.
Of course those that know Brooke and have followed her career closely have come to expect such feats. That’s been a common pattern from the golfing talent from Smiths Falls. After taking up the game at a tender age she started piling up the trophies early. She added the biggest one to her trophy case so far in Oregon.
On Sunday the teen became the first Canadian winner on the LPGA Tour since 2001 when Lorie Kane captured the last of her four LPGA Tour victories.
Henderson pummelled the field the Cambia Portland Classic, an event she open qualified for. It’s been fifteen years since a Monday qualifier won on the LPGA Tour.
Her four round total of -21 included scores of 66, 67, 65, and 65 over the Columbia Edgewater Golf Club. She carried a huge lead throughout the final round after opening with a 33 (-3) on Sunday, allowing her to cruise to a comfortable first win on the LPGA Tour, and her 8th victory at a professional event.
As expected Henderson was overjoyed by her play and the win. “It’s amazing. It’s such an unbelievable thing, and I can’t really it’s not even real life yet I don’t think. I was just trying to play my own game, and I kept trying to get it to minus 24 all day today, and I came up a little bit short, but I got the win, and I’m extremely excited.”
Henderson did have a five stroke lead heading into the day, but, as indicated by her -24 goal, she tried to keep pushing forward even as that lead grew.
“I tried to just keep making more birdies. I had a number in mind, and I was trying to chase after it, and I was trying not to watch the girls I was playing with, Sandra (Gal) and Morgan (Pressel), or any other players, and I noticed early a couple people were making a move, Caroline made it to minus 13, I think, in just her first couple holes, so I saw that, but like I said, I was just trying to play my own game.”
Dreaming of being on the LPGA Tour since an early age (we can recall her stating that goal in an interview at age 11), in Portland Brooke made those childhood fantasies into a reality.
“Well, it was funny because I don’t know if it was today or yesterday, but when I was a little girl I always pictured the fans around the green and watching another player putt, and I saw that just the other day, and I was like, wow, this is pretty cool, and I’m right where I want to be, playing on the LPGA Tour. What I’ve been saying all year is that when I have opportunities I want to take advantage of them, and I really did that this week.”
Brooke began playing LPGA events three years ago with an appearance at the CP Women’s Open. To date she has played in 18 LPGA events with 10 of those coming this year – her first year as a professional.
The $195,000 first place prize in Portland brings her unofficial winnings for the season to (USD) $661,818. When the new Rolex World Rankings come out this week she is projected to rise to the 18th position, her highest position to date.
She also becomes just the third player in LPGA history to win before her 18th birthday, a feat previously accomplished by Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson.
As a non-member winner Brooke becomes eligible for category 7 priority status on the LPGA Tour but only if Commissioner Mike Whan is petitioned and grants that status since she is under the age of 18.
With starts already secured for the CP Women’s Open (being played in Vancouver this week), Evian Championship, and CME Group Tour Championship it’s quite possible her team will look to defer that status until 2016.
Asked about that decision immediately after leaving the 72nd green, Brooke, who turns 18 on September 10th, was not exactly focussed on the possibility.
“I haven’t even really thought about it yet. I’m just going to celebrate tonight and then hopefully make a decision soon and we’ll see what happens.”
Henderson was not the only Canadian to have success in Portland. Alena Sharp of Hamilton tied for 10th place, her best finish of the season.
Sharp, along with former LPGA winner Gail Graham of British Columbia, Brooke’s father Dave, and sister Brittany, were among those waiting on the final green to shower the newest LPGA tournament champion with champagne.