Two weeks removed from her 11th LPGA TOUR victory, Canada’s Brooke Henderson is trending nicely heading into the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. She has attaining 12th win in sharp focus, and she would love to make it a second major championship.
It was announced mid-day on Tuesday that the competitors this week will be playing for a (USD) $9 million purse at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Smiths Fall’s sensation is seeking a healthy share.
While Henderson had yet to play the acclaimed Blue course at Congressional by the time she met the media on Tuesday, she was looking forward to taking it on in a championship that she feels was pivotal to her career.
“I’m always very excited to come back to this event,” noted Henderson, who admits she cannot recall much of the win by one of her golf heroes, Rory McIlroy, in 2011 when the United States Open was hoisted at Congressional. “You know, pulling into the past champion parking space that they have for me, so it’s just really cool. In the locker room, past champion is on my locker, too. Just a lot of little perks and great reminders of what a special week it was back in 2016. Every time I come back to this event, I’m just trying to recreate what I did then and hopefully get off to a fast start on Thursday.”
Now 24, it was six years ago that the winningest Canadian in LPGA history made major waves with a triumph in this championship at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington.
“It changed my whole life. It changed my career, changed my life. It was just an incredible week<‘ she recalled of that win that established her presence as future star of the game.
“To have my first major championship win in the fashion that I had it, beating World No. 1 at the time, Lydia, who is a great friend, in a playoff and being able to hoist that trophy with my sister, Brit — that was her first win on the bag and such a great win to have.
It was just that Sunday afternoon everything just went perfectly, and maybe it was meant to be. I would love to get my hands on that trophy again.”
Of course, before you get that opportunity there is golf to be played. While Henderson was about to make her first lap of the golf course Tuesday afternoon in the pro-am early scouting, including notes from her caddy and sister, Brittany, have her feeling positive about what she will face. She has also leaned on course staff for a little assistance.
“Brit walked it yesterday and did a lot of work out there, and just talking to her a little bit last night and this morning about it, same thing. Having to be strategic and hit in the right places off the tee and on the green.
I just talked to the superintendent here, too, and he was saying that it’s definitely — you have to think your way around. So I think it will be really important to have a strong connection with your caddie and in my case, my coach, my dad, who he helps out with the strategic part a lot and just making sure we have a solid plan. And then, hopefully, when it’s time to hit those shots, I can do it.”
Coming off a win two weeks ago at the ShopRite LPGA and a tie for 9th last week in Michigan, Henderson says she is feeling as strong as ever. Her newly adopted left-hand low putting style has brought success and that makes her optimistic about the week ahead.
“I think everything is just kind of coming together,” she shared. “Like I said, it’s really nice to have a bit of momentum coming into a major championship where you feel confident with all aspects. Taking a quick look around this place and hearing what Brit had to say about it, you’re definitely going to have to have all parts of your game working.
I think the champion is going to be somebody that, yeah, is just excelling in all areas and creative when they need to be and has perseverance and patience when they need to.
I think it’s just going to crown a great champion and hopefully I can continue to ball-strike as well as I have the last few weeks and make those putts when I need to.”
Henderson will play the first two rounds of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship alongside Nelly Korda and Inbee Park. They get underway at 7:33 a.m. on Thursday.
Fellow Canadian Maude-Aimee Leblanc is also in the field. She starts her week at 8:33 a.m. on Thursday playing with Eun Hee Ji and Cheyenne Knight.