AURORA, Ont. – When Brooke Henderson is the defending champion at an LPGA event, the golf world takes notice. When that tournament is her National Championship and the next edition is being held in the Greater Toronto Area, things really, really, heat up. After-all, it’s been since 2001 that the CP Women’s Open has been in the region, back when Annika Sorenstam raised the trophy at Angus Glen in Markham.
The media was out in full force on Tuesday at the Magna Golf Club, the ultra-private enclave that will play host to the 2019 CP Women’s Open. While the day saw an announcement by tournament sponsor Canadian Pacific of a goal to raise $1.75 million for Sick Kids Hospital through the championship, it was clear who the 5th estate was there to see – Henderson.
The 21 year-old from Smiths Falls was front and centre, handling one media request after another. It’s a situation that is unlikely to slow down as the Canadian championship week approaches at the end of August.
Now a 9-time winner on the LPGA TOUR, much of the weight, of both marketing and expectations, are being on the slim shoulders of the eastern Ontario prodigy, but there will be no easy path to title defence.
She noted Tuesday that she is fine with that and competing against the best players in the world is what she strives for, and there will no shortage of competition in Aurora on August 19-25.
Tournament organizers are content as well. Yes, a huge portion of the spectators will be there to see Henderson (she is featured in just about every marketing campaign) but with a wealth of talent on the LPGA, there are many other stars to be showcased.
“Brooke winning the 2018 CP Women’s Open in historic fashion was an incredible moment for Canadian golf and there is a tremendous momentum leading into Magna Golf Club as we bring Canada’s National Women’s Open back to the Greater Toronto Area for the first time in nearly 20 years,” said CP Women’s Open Tournament Director Ryan Paul. “Our early player commitments are trending towards welcoming one of the strongest fields on the LPGA Tour that will deliver a spectacular world-class event.”
90 of the Top 100
Just how strong? On Tuesday it was revealed that 90 of the top 100 players on the LPGA TOUR Money List have committed to the (USD) $2.25 million purse event, including all the winners of tournaments in 2019.
That makes it 16 of the top 20 on the money list, including Jeongeun Lee6 (1), Jin Young Ko (2), Lexi Thompson (3), Sung Hyun Park (4) Minjee Lee (6), Nelly Korda (7), Hannah Green (8), Danielle Kang (9), So Yeon Ryu (10), Sei Young Kim (11), Eun Hee Ji (12), Nasa Hataoka (13), Angel Yin (15), Amy Yang (17) and Azahara Munoz (19).
Henderson will be among seven past event champions in the field (to date). That grouping counts among it: Sung Hyun Park (2017), Ariya Jutanugarn (2016), So Yeon Ryu (2014), Katherine Kirk (2008), Cristie Kerr (2006) and three-time winner Lydia Ko (2015, 2013, 2012).
Another welcome addition announced was an invitation extended and accepted by inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur Champion Jennifer Kupcho. In the future an invitation will be extended to that event’s champion on a yearly basis, as well as to the Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship, if it applies.
Of course, along the 156 players, Henderson will be among a strong contingent of Canadians vying to win the title.
CP Ambassador Lorie Kane says she is feeling healthy and not willing to be a “ceremonial golfer” as she plays the championship for the 29th time.
Other Canadians already committed include Alena Sharp, Brittany Marchand, Jaclyn Lee, and Anne-Catherine Tanguay.
Expect that list to expand, including some amateurs, in the days to come.
It’s still more than a month and a half until the 2019 CP Women’s Open Championship at Magna Golf Club, but golf fans already have a lot to look forward to.