There was no trophy hoisting for 17 year-old Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ontario at the Lake Merced Golf and Country Club this week. That honour went to her “elder”, Lydia Ko, who won her 7th LPGA Tour title in a playoff with Morgan Pressel. But Brooke did not leave empty-handed, even beyond her solo third place finish, one stroke short of making the playoff a three-ball.
Not only did she earn just north of $130,000 ($132,721 to be exact) in her tenth career LPGA showing, but she banked even more knowledge. Material she will undoubtedly put to use in future appearances.
As intense of a competitor as she is, as she always has been, she will be upset at not closing the deal after carrying the lead into the final round of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. But she is smart enough to look to what she did gain, and not what could have been.
In near misses in the past, throughout her storied junior and amateur career, she tucked away every bit of knowledge she could squeeze out of any tournament experience. Some athletes say that they’ll do that but Brooke Henderson has always been believable. Usually because she’d follow up with another victory of some kind.
It was a familiar theme repeated Sunday as she commented after the final round in San Francisco. “I definitely won on a lot of experience,” she conveyed. “I can gain a lot from that moving forward. Hopefully I’ll be in the position that I was in earlier this morning many times in the future and I’ll be able to take everything that happened today and be able to learn from it.”
Brooke’s card did add up to 74 for the final round, her highest of the week. Even so, she was in the mix for the title right to the end.
Her day was marred by five bogies including three in a stretch of four holes on the critical back nine. Yes, she did squeeze in a miraculous holed sand shot for eagle in the midst of it but even she knew it was not her sharpest performance.
“You know, I was doing pretty well in terms of nerves and focusing, especially through the front nine. One loose shot on No. 1, but other than that it was pretty decent…I mishit quite a few of them coming in, but other than that, it was nice to be in the position that I was in. Like I said, I’m going to learn a ton from it.”
Others will learn from it too. For those not believing that Brooke was really ready to compete on the LPGA Tour, this week confirmed it. Her top ten finish at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, five professional wins, and #1 Amateur in the World ranking were no fluke.
The sorority will not automatically gather her in though. At least not yet.
A win could have worked her into status on the tour for two seasons, dependent on a successful petition to LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. It’s necessary as she does not reach tour minimum age until this Fall.
Non-member wins are defined as an actual category within the maze of LPGA Priority Status, though. Bronze medal finishes have no such cache.
Unlike the PGA TOUR where top ten finishers are rewarded with an entry in to the next week’s tournament (if space is available), the LPGA only does this for TOUR members only. Of which Brooke Henderson is not. Of any tour.
That means, with cheque and more experience in hand, the emerging pro from small town Ontario heads off to Texas to the next LPGA stop…sort of.
She may be a golfing sensation who finished just shy of becoming the third player under the age of 18 to win on the LPGA Tour, but all that guarantees her in the week ahead is a tee time…
…at a two-spot Monday qualifier.
If she keeps knocking on the door like this though, you’d think that sooner rather than later Mike Whan will be there to answer.
He’s missing out if he doesn’t, and robbing golf fans from around the world from seeing Brooke Henderson compete every week where she should be.
With the best female golfers in the world.