By Chris Stevenson, The Rideau View Golf Insider
AURORA, Ont. — When Brooke and Brittany Henderson got to the eighth tee at Magna Golf Club on Saturday, Brooke’s chances of defending her CP Women’s Open title were somewhere up on the blustery wind.
She was 2-over through seven holes and had fallen six shots off the lead.
So Brooke and caddy/sister Brittany had a conversation on the eighth tee. Brooke hit it to two feet on the par-3 eighth, two feet to birdie the par-5 ninth and there were off on a stretch that would see Henderson have the hottest stretch of her young career.
She went 9-under for her last 11 holes — seven birdies and an eagle — for a 7-under 65 and goes into the final round Sunday in third place, two shots behind leaders Jin Young Ko of Korea, the No. 1 player in the world, and second-round leader Nicole Broch Larsen of Denmark.
They will all play together in the final group Sunday (tee off at 11:15 a.m. ET) as the field goes out in threesomes off split tees to have things wrapped up by 4:30 p.m. for television.
When somebody asked if there was anything that flipped the switch after a bogey on the short, par-4 sixth hole, Henderson replied: “Seven wasn’t great either, you know.”
That was kind of funny.
About that start: she had bogeyed the fourth hole when she went long left – about the only place you couldn’t miss it — and had a downhill pitch from the rough to a short flag there was no way she was going to stop by the hole.
On the next hole a wedge from less than 90 yards spun off the green and she saved par.
On the short sixth, another wedge from 124 yards spun off the front and she didn’t save par.
Brittany said the swirling wind switched on them on those wedge shots and given a do-over she said she didn’t think they would do anything differently.
On the par-5 seventh, she missed right, way below the level of the green, came out long and lagged for a par.
Then there was the talk on the eighth tee.
“(Brooke) said ‘I’m not hitting it that bad. It just feels like nothing’s clicking,’” Brittany said. “She was hitting good shots. It just wasn’t working. We said we were just going to keep doing the same things, have the same thinking. Then the good shots started being rewarded … and she started putting pretty well.
“I just tried to get out of her way because she was rolling,” Brittany said modestly.
Here’s how that 10 hole stretch broke down:
Eighth hole, 163 yards: 6-iron to two feet, birdie.
Ninth hole, 526 yards: wedge from 63 yards to two feet, birdie.
10th hole, 409 yards: 6-iron from 158 yards to four feet, birdie.
11th hole, 413 yards, par from 20 feet.
12th hole, 479 yards, 4-hybrid (22º) from 191 yards uphill to five feet, eagle
13th hole, 148 yards, 12-foot putt, birdie
14th hole, 505 yards, 30 yards from bunker to 12 feet, birdie
15th hole, 365 yards, par from 25 feet.
16th, hole, 401 yards, 142-yard approach to 23 feet, birdie
17th, 162 yards, 18 feet putt, birdie
She played the 10-hole stretch from eight to 17 in 31 strokes, nine under par. She shot 29 on the back nine, tying her low nine on the LPGA Tour.
“I think that was probably one of the best (stretches). I can’t remember the last time I was in the 20s through nine holes, so that’s always a lot of fun,” Brooke said. “I think just taking it into (Sunday), if I can try to keep this momentum and energy I had on the last few holes, hopefully maybe hit it a little better off the tee, hit it a little closer and hopefully my putter can bail me out.”
She needed only 12 putts during that 10-hole stretch and 26 for the round. Su Oh led the field Saturday with 25. Henderson is a hot-and-cold putter. She was ranked 66th on the LPGA Tour coming into this week with an average of 30.09 putts per round.
By my rudimentary calculation, Henderson made about 78 feet of putts during her hot stretch.
“It was nice to have my putter on my side. To be honest, my putter has been bailing me out a lot this week,” Henderson said. “Today I made a lot of putts. I felt really confident with it, felt like my speed was good. As long as I was seeing the line, they seemed to be falling.”
Henderson can draw on last year’s experience when she shot 65 in the final round to close out her win in Saskatchewan and became the first Canadian to win our national women’s championship in 45 years.
“It’s going to be a long 18 holes. I’m not even in the lead, so it doesn’t really look likely. At the same time, I feel like if I can make a lot of birdies and kind of get the momentum my way, you never know what can happen,” she said.
“Just like any tournament, it’s won on the back nine on Sunday, really. Hopefully I can just kind of repeat what I did today. It would be really special. To do it once is incredible. To do it twice would be really awesome.”
Henderson said she also got a boost from a little boy that stuck his hand out for a high five starting at the seventh green. It reminded me of the little girl who did the same thing and helped carry Henderson to victory at the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. She also came from behind to win the KPMG over another Ko, Lydia (Henderson has come from behind for three or her nine LPGA wins).
Maybe that little boy will get himself in position to help on Sunday.
Follow me on Twitter: @CJ_Stevenson
This article appears courtesy of Rideau View Golf Club, where Chris Stevenson is a regular contributor to their social media – worth following!