Canada’s Brooke Henderson Looking For Super Summer After ‘Breakthrough’ Win In Michigan

Canada's Brooke Henderson, Seen Here Teeing Off In The CP Women's Open At Vancouver Golf Club In 2015 - Image Credit Jurgen Kaminski (JKam Photos)/British Columbia Golf

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

Summer is just getting started and Brooke Henderson has an inkling she is going to have a very good one.

The 19-year-old Canadian LPGA Tour star sounded like she was oozing with confidence in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. Fresh off a victory this past weekend at the Meijer LPGA Classic in Grand Rapids, Mich., Henderson feels like she has turned the corner on what had, by her high standards, been a disappointing start to her 2017 season.

“I really needed this win and I think it's going to turn around my entire season,” Henderson said.

It's not like Henderson had been playing terribly. She had seven top-15 finishes in her first 14 events before her win last week. But she had not been the dominant player she was in 2016, when she won twice, including a major championship.

“I definitely didn’t receive the results I thought I deserved because my game was in a really great place,” said Henderson. “I was hitting the ball really well, my ball-striking had been the best it has been the last three years. I just wasn’t getting those couple breaks, wasn’t making those couple putts early in the week that can really make a huge difference when the tournament is over.

“I feel this was a breakthrough week for me, it is kind of a turning point in my season. Just the confidence and feeling of being able to hoist a trophy again is unexplainable and it's such a great feeling to do it on Sunday. I kind of reminded myself that I do belong here and can contend on the LPGA Tour and get back to some of my bigger goals and knowing I am able to do it.”

Her two-shot win over Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson at the Meijer LPGA Classic was Henderson’s fourth LPGA Tour victory and the first that did not occur on the west coast. She had won the Cambia Portland Classic twice in Oregon and last summer won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in a playoff over Lydia Ko at Sahalee in Seattle.

She will defend that title next week when the event is played at Olympia Fields near Chicago. It is a course Henderson played in the past at a U.S. Junior Girls Championship and she and her caddie-sister, Brittany, visited it again last month.

image credit jurgen kaminski (jkam photos)/british columbia golf

Brooke Henderson Has Had Her Sister Brittany As Her Caddie For A Few Years Now

“It is a beautiful golf course with a rich history as well,” Henderson said. “Very traditional, tree-lined fairways, long rough, the greens are severely sloped and very quick, so you definitely want to leave the ball below the hole. I feel like it sets up well for my game.

“Hopefully I can get off to a quick start there and feel my way through all four rounds and be able to hoist that trophy again because that was such a big moment in my career last year, being able to do it at Sahalee.”

That win at Sahalee raised expectations to a sky-high level for Henderson and her less than stellar start to 2017 had been frustrating. That frustration now seems to have transitioned to confidence after her win in Michigan.

Henderson noted on a couple of occasions during her conference call that there are still four majors remaining to be played this summer, as well the CP Women’s Open, which is being played in Ottawa, not far from her home in Smith Falls, Ont. “There are lots of great things coming up this season and I am just looking forward to the opportunity to compete and hopefully contend many times over the next few weeks,” she said.

Henderson said her sluggish start to 2017 forced her to learn a thing or two about patience and perseverance. “I was shooting really good scores but I just wasn’t making those one or two putts. I feel like patience is extremely important in golf and also in life and I feel that was a really good lesson that I needed to learn.”

Henderson has also come to better appreciate how tough it is to win on the LPGA Tour. She was the 15th different player to win in 15 LPGA Tour events this season, a stat that speaks to the parity in women’s golf. 

“It just proves how strong this game is right now. You need a couple of good breaks and I was able to get those and also my game is in a really good place. I felt like anything was possible and I felt like I was going to get this win.

“I think it was good timing for the rest of the summer for me to win this week and gives me that extra boost where hopefully I win a few more times, especially going into the four majors left in the season.”

CHIP SHOTS: Sunday’s win moved Henderson to sixth on the LPGA money list with $592,756. She moved up two spots to 13th in the latest Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.