August 23, 2018
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Brooke Henderson returns home to Canada, looking for a spark in what has been a disappointing summer. In front of a passionate Saskatchewan crowd, Henderson shot an opening round 66 at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open.
“It was a solid round today,” said Henderson. “I got off to a rocky start with a bogey on the 1st hole, but I made a ton of birdies today, which is always a good sign.”
Playing in her seventh Canadian Open, Brooke started the day with a bogey on the opening hole. But she righted the ship by birdieing six of the next seven holes to get into red figures, making a charge up the leaderboard. She would end up being two back of the leaders Ariya Jutanugarn, Nasa Hataoka, Mariajo Uribe, who both set course records with their respective 64’s. Henderson would only need 28 putts in her round today, converting 8/14 fairways and 16/18 greens in regulation, despite only one birdie on three par-5’s on the back 9.
“I ran into trouble on the par-5’s today but I am not too worried. You can definitely take advantage of the par-5’s and I think if I can capitalize on those over the next three days, then my score can be even lower.”
Henderson has exploded onto the LPGA Tour, winning her first major at the age of 18 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, making her become the youngest ever to win that tournament. Despite all of her success on the LPGA Tour, which includes six victories, she is only 20 years old and is starting to learn how to manage those expectations.
“Coming here as a 14-year-old, I learned how to deal with the expectations pretty early on,” says Henderson. “Over the last six years, I’ve learned to say no sometimes to opportunities so I can take care of myself, get proper rest and practice, so I can play as best as I can.”
Coming into the Canadian Open, Brooke shot a 63 at Indianapolis in the final round, showcasing her improvement in her putting, which she has struggled with this year. Having confidence is crucial and Henderson believes that her game is in a great spot to contend for her country’s national championship.
“Seeing a lot of putts roll in [on Sunday] was a great feeling for me. It gives me a lot of confidence in my putter that I’ve been changing in and out for the last year or so.”
But the summer hasn’t been easy for the young Canadian, particularly off the golf course. The 20-year-old lost both of her grandparents and had to deal with striking a balance between focusing on her golf game and grieving the loss of loved ones.
“It’s been a tough summer for sure,” explains Henderson. “But once I get inside the ropes, I get an extra boost knowing that my two grandpas are cheering me on and looking down on me.”
It is this maturity both on and off the golf course that has allowed Brooke to generate so much success at such a young age. Feeding off the Canadian fans, known as “Brooke’s Brigade,” has allowed her to feel comfortable in those tense situations, particularly this week as she tries to be the first Canadian woman since 1973 to win the Canadian Open.
“It would be amazing to win in Canada. It is definitely a dream for me, but it will be difficult to achieve. Being a Canadian Pacific Ambassador and playing here in my home country, I believe that before my career is over I will hoist that trophy for Canada.”
Heading into tomorrow, Henderson will be right in the mix with some of the most elite golfers on the LPGA Tour. Lydia Ko, a three-time winner of the Canadian Open, shot a six under 66 and has become a favorite amongst the Canadian crowd.
“The Canadians have taken me in as a Canadian almost,” says Ko. “It’s a place where I’ve had my first LPGA win and it’s always nice and comforting to come back to places you’ve played well at. The fans are a huge factor in this event.”
Henderson sits one back of the lead held by Ariya Jutanugarn and Mariajo Uribe. Jutanugarn, ranked number two in the world and a former Canadian Open winner, shot an eight-under 64, where she had nine birdies and missed only one green in regulation. She took advantage of a getable golf course, with not much wind and lift, clean and place rule due to wet conditions.
“I’m pretty lucky to play with no wind this morning,” said Jutanugarn. “I feel I have been playing great the last few weeks and am very pleased with the round today.”
With the golf course already very firm and fast, the high winds will fly through Saskatchewan tomorrow, affecting the players in the second round. With Henderson playing in the morning for her second round, she hopes to continue her attack and aggressive play, especially before the heavy winds pick up.
“This course meant to be windy, so I think some holes can kind of play in my favor that way,” said Henderson. “It’s going to be a challenge for the whole field so I have just make sure I hit the ball in good places, give myself a lot of birdie opportunities and capitalize.”
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