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Youngster Henderson scoring for Canada on LPGA Tour

Country's premier female golfer great for the game

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Six-time LPGA tournament winner Brooke Henderson poses for pictures and signs autographs for kids in the Future Pros Program at the St. Charles Country Club in Winnipeg on Tuesday.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Six-time LPGA tournament winner Brooke Henderson poses for pictures and signs autographs for kids in the Future Pros Program at the St. Charles Country Club in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/7/2018 (716 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Only a few days have passed since Brooke Henderson let a golf tournament get away from her, something that doesn’t sit particularly well with Canada’s premier female player.

"It definitely stings. It was a tough finish but I played well last week and that’s all I can take away from it. I would have loved my seventh win on the LPGA Tour, that would have been incredible. But I guess it just wasn’t my week," Henderson said on Tuesday, during a chat with reporters at St. Charles Country Club.

The 20-year-old, currently sixth on the tour money list with earnings of US$843,597 through 18 events this season, finished third on Sunday at the Marathon Classic. The product of Smiths Falls, Ont., led the tournament by one shot after 54 holes and owned a two-stroke lead after six holes in the final round, but struggled down the stretch. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead.

She made pars on the par-five 17th and 18th holes to complete her round, leaving a pitch about 20 feet short of the cup and then missing the birdie putt on the 18th to finish one shot out of a playoff with eventual winner Thidapa Suwannapura of Thailand and runner-up Brittany Lincicome.

Henderson has had one victory this season — the Lotte Championship in Hawaii in mid-April — but fell just short in Ohio.

"Leading up to that, I played amazing golf all week. The four holes kind of don’t give the respect to those other holes that much, but I was playing great," she said. "So, it’s just kind of another learning experience. I don’t know, it just happened and you’ve just got to move on. I’m just trying to learn from some of the things that I did on that final stretch and, hopefully, in a few weeks time I’ll have that opportunity again and, hopefully, make it a different outcome."

Bank on Henderson scoring for Canada.

At 20, she’s already one of the most decorated golfers in this country’s history. Her half-dozen wins — two shy of the Canadian record held by Sandra Post — include one major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. That day in mid-June 2016, she beat sensational Lydia Ko with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff to win the tournament after overcoming a three-shot deficit on the back nine.

The details of that day in Sammamish, Wash., remain etched in her memory.

"I remember I was thinking I maybe needed (a) birdie on the last hole, or at least a par to hope for a playoff. Unfortunately, the last hole didn’t go that well but I scrambled to make par, and then just kind of waited in the locker room to hear how Lydia was doing. I was really nervous. I was shaking," Henderson recalled. "I talked to myself about what a special moment it would be to win a major... to take advantage of it.

"I was able to go out and birdie the first playoff hole. I hit it to three feet. My hands never felt that way before, over a three-footer, but I hit into the back of the hole and lifted my first major trophy. Again, just another dream come true."

Henderson will take a few weeks away from the tour and stick close to home before playing in the Women’s British Open in Lancashire, England in early August.

She’s also preparing to take another run at the CP Women’s Open, set for Regina Aug. 23-26. It will be Henderson’s fourth appearance at the national championship since turning pro in 2015 right out of high school. She was also invited to play in the tournament twice as an amateur.

She has finished in the top 25 each of the past three years, with her best performance coming in 2017 (tied for 12th) at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club.

"I love the Canadian Women’s Open. This will be my seventh this year, which is pretty hard to believe. But every year, I’ve kind of learned to embrace it a little bit more and to enjoy it more and to have the hometown crowd, even though it is a couple of provinces away, I still feel like I’m in my home town. To have that support from all over Canada is incredible," she said.

As always, Henderson will have her sister, Brittany, 27, on her bag.

Brittany, a terrific college player who spent one year on the Symetra Tour — a minor pro tour — put her own aspirations on the back burner about three years ago to be Brooke’s caddie.

"I always had the dream, too, of being on the LPGA, but it’s worked out for the best. You don’t have control of your life, you just have influence, so you try to do the best you can and see what happens," Brittany said. "This is not what I planned, but this is the best thing that could have happened for me. Just being able to travel the world together and to have all of these experiences is a lot more fun."

Brooke’s success is, indeed, a family affair. Her father, Dave, is her coach.

"I wouldn’t have had the success so far if I didn’t have the amazing support of my parents (Dave and Darlene) and my sister. We’re going through this amazing journey together, experiencing everything together, and I think it just makes it that little bit more special," Brooke said.

"I feel I can depend on her, I can trust in her. When I have a bad day, she has a bad day and she feels it with me and we work through it together. When I win, she wins and I feel that’s what makes everything so successful."

As the voice in Brooke’s ear during tense moments, Brittany knows when to be firm with advice and when to pull back.

"We have a rule where the player has the final choice, so if we ever have a disagreement out there, we just know that the player is the one who has to be happy with it in the end, so they get to make the final choice," Brittany said. "That’s what keeps us out there from fighting and doing a typical sibling kind of move. We just try to keep it pretty professional."

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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