Already a three-time LPGA winner, and as much of a veteran as a 19 year-old can be, Brooke Henderson knew what lay ahead for her in the final round of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. The leaderboard was crowded and she was one stroke back of top spot.
“…you’ve just got to stay patient and just keep playing your own game,” were the words of Brooke Henderson when she was asked to assess the crowded leaderboard on Saturday.
In gusty conditions Sunday, the Smiths Falls Ontario native followed her own advice on her way to victory in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the 4th of her LPGA Tour career.
In doing so she held off the likes of Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie, and Moriya Jutanugarn. Wie and Thompson finished at -15 with Thompson being the last one able to spoil Henderson’s party. To do that she required a hole-out eagle on the 18th hole to tie the leader in the clubhouse. She could muster no more than a par.
Henderson posted rounds of 63-67-67-66 (-17) to earn the title. She cobbled together the scores with the ultimate combination of long drives, fairways and greens hit, and the hot putter she had been seeking out for some time. She required 118 putts for the week but used just 55 of those for the first two rounds.
After reaching 17 under par on the 11th hole of the final round, Henderson stayed clear of the field with continued steady play.
She passed two critical tests coming into the clubhouse, a six-foot par on the 16th hole and another of the same length on the 18th.
“I played really steady golf today, and that putt on 16 is really huge,” Henderson related. “Especially looking back now, it’s even bigger than what I thought it was. So it’s really cool to be able to make those putts under pressure. The leaderboard is packed. There’s so many great names up there, so to finish on top is really exciting.”
Even with a two-shot victory, the tension of the moment was apparent deep into the back nine for Henderson. She was emotional, gritting her teeth and even hitting a club against her bag when the shot was not up to her standard.
She wanted the win, badly. That despite it being just 27 events since her last win at the 2016 Cambia Portland Classic.
“Yeah, it’s amazing. Super excited right now, she said immediately after the win became official. “It was really tough today. To shoot 3 under and I don’t think I had any bogeys today either, which was great. The wind really picked up. I was kind of surprised when I looked at the leaderboard and I had a two-shot lead on the 18th green. Super happy and I’m just glad it’s done and I finally have my fourth win.”
With the victory Brooke moves up 16 spots to 6th place in the year-long Race To The CME Globe.
Henderson earned $300,000 for the win to bring her 2017 earning to $592,765.
Her career total is now $2,417,479.
Brooke will not be in the field next week for the LPGA Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. She will be busy preparing for her title defence at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, her next event. She will also return to Canada for a Media Day to promote the CP Women’s Open at Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club.
And now, as a winner again on the LPGA Tour, you can surmise that fans will be more eager than ever to see her try to run down that trophy in the Nation’s Capital.
But no more than she will be.