August 25, 2018
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
At 18 years old, Brooke Henderson experienced the immense joy of making history. She won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, making her the youngest ever to win the event.
Two years later, at the extraordinary age of 20, Brooke is once again in a position to make history on a golf course. She currently sits as the 54-hole leader at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open with a score of 14 under par, her seventh time she has played the event. Tomorrow, in front of the thousands of raucous Canadians supporting her, she will attempt to become the first Canadian since 1973 to win the CP Women’s Open, trying to end the 45-year drought.
“It would be pretty sweet to rewrite history,” stated Henderson after her round. “I’m definitely in a good position heading into the final round. Hopefully I can just go out and get close to that 6-under round.”
In today’s round, Brooke generated 10/14 fairways hit and 12/18 greens in regulation. What is more impressive is this week on the Back 9, she is 7 under par, demonstrating how she can unleash her game over the stretch of holes that matter most.
“It’s a lot more fun being at the top of the leaderboard. I can feed off the crowd a lot more. When I have a lot of confidence in my game, that’s when I tend to make a lot of birdies and play really well.”
For Henderson to capture her first CP Women’s Open, she will have to fend off competitors who are former champions of this tournament north of the border. Lydia Ko, who has won the CP Women’s Open three times, started the day six under par, after having to play in the tough windy conditions yesterday afternoon. But she fought back right into contention with a four under 68, the lowest round of the day, to put herself in prime position to post a score tomorrow.
“It was a really solid round,” stated Ko. “It was a bit of an up-and-down start to my day on the front nine, but I was able to have two good birdies in a row, which turned my day around. It was still windy today so I tried to stay patient and give myself good opportunities.”
Ko had six birdies on the card today, compared to only one in her second round. It has been four months since she has won on the LPGA Tour, but she believes her game is in the right place to make a run at winning her fourth CP Women’s Open.
“My ball-striking has been very good these past few days. When the greens are trickier, it’s nice to give myself looks at birdies. It’s really important that when the greens are firm and fast, that you’re not having too many tricky putts, so I think that’s been some of the highlights.”
Compared to her three other wins in Canada, Ko is extremely appreciative of the crowds in Saskatchewan, that has been incredibly supportive of her on the course.
“The crowds are pretty insane,” exclaimed Ko. “I think for many of them it might be their first time watching a golf tournament, so it’s great the best female golfers are here, able to showcase some great golf throughout the week.”
Another former champion who will be chasing Henderson tomorrow is Sun Hyun Park, who won the event in 2017. Park was matching Henderson’s stellar play with birdies of her own. But an errant second shot on the par 5 14th sent her ball out of bounds, resulting in a bogey. She would end up also bogeying the 16th on her way to finishing two strokes behind Henderson. But the World Number One is used to playing from behind; in both of her major championship victories, she had deficits after 54 holes which she overcame to capture the titles.
“I’m in a good position, a couple shots back from the lead,” stated Park. “I’m just going to take it shot by shot, and I still have one day left. I’m going to focus on my putting and making sure I give myself good opportunities at making birdies.”
To say the pressure and expectations have been enormous for Canadian Brooke Henderson is an understatement. She is trying to be the fourth Canadian in golf history to win in Canada, joining Pat Fletcher (1954 Canadian Open) Jocelyne Bourassa (1973 La Canadienne) and Mike Wei (1999 Air Canada Championship).
But every time there has been adversity, Henderson has been able to rise above the obstacles to produce stellar golf. After a bogey on the fifth hole today, Henderson followed it up with a birdie, a testament to how the great players can follow up a poor hole with a fantastic one. On the 16th hole, the Canadian superstar sank a lengthy par putt, demonstrating that she has the capability to sink long putts in tomorrow’s round.
“That putt really helped with my momentum a lot, coming off of three birdies and then almost chipping in. To be able to get up-and-down when I ran into a little bit of trouble on 16 was really key to keep my composure,” said Henderson.
There will be many great players chasing Henderson tomorrow, all trying to etch their name into CP Women’s Open history. But with the enormous crowds behind the young Canadian, maintaining her aggressive play will be crucial for her to shoot a low round tomorrow.
“I play better when I’m aggressive. I play smart but aggressive. When I’m chasing birdies, that’s where I am playing my best. There are many players within five shots, so I definitely have to play my best and hopefully go low.”
The curtains are closed on Wascana Country Club, waiting to be opened to showcase history. Saskatchewan is a province known for their Saskatchewan Roughriders football team. But tomorrow, the whole country of Canada will be on the edge of their seats, hoping to carry Brooke Henderson to the finish line and her first CP Women’s Open.