Brooke Henderson’s days of being a golfing nomad may be over after the 17-year old Canadian ran away with her first LPGA title on Sunday at the Portland Classic.
The teen golfer from Smiths Falls, Ontario took a five-stroke lead into the final round on Sunday in Oregon. There, she shot another three under par in the front nine before exchanging a pair of birdies and bogeys on the homestretch to finish with an astonishing 21-under in a tournament record. Her score was eight strokes ahead of three players who all finished eight shots behind the winner.
Henderson had two bogeys in the last 18 and a total of just three over the four rounds. Only the 11th (Friday), 13th and 18th (Sunday) holes got the better of Henderson at any point in Portland.
“It’s amazing,” Henderson told LPGA.com after the victory. “It’s such an unbelievable thing… it’s not even real‑life yet I don’t think.”
Henderson had set a lofty target of six under on the final day. Early on it looked as though she would get there to avoid any potential late charge from the field, which never arrived.
“I was just trying to play my own game, and I kept trying to get it to minus‑24 all day today, and I came up a little bit short, but I got the win, and I’m extremely excited.”
Due to her age, Henderson was not eligible for full time status on the LPGA Tour, although she would have been in contention for 2016 after her 18th birthday next month. Nonetheless, now an event winner, Henderson can apply for a Tour card without having to go through qualification, or finishing top-40 on the money list, the latter now very much manageable anyhow with her victory on Sunday.
The LPGA reports that Henderson is set to move up the official Women’s World Golf Rankings from 32nd place to 18th as a result of Sunday’s win. In just 18 LPGA events with very little certainty without a full time Tour card where she may play one week to the next, Henderson has made the top-10 on five occasions.
She beat a stellar field in Portland, including some of the top women’s golfers in the world, many of whom faded over the weekend as Henderson grew stronger. Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum, Ha Na Jang of South Korea and Candie Kung representing Chinese Taipei tied for second after Sunday’s play. Canadian Alena Sharp shot 10-under and tied for 10th in Portland.
There hadn’t been a Canadian LPGA Tour winner since Lorie Kane did it in Hawaii back in 2001. Henderson’s total 72-hole score at the Portland Classic is also a tournament record, one shot better than Suzann Pettersen scored in 2013.
“I think Canadian golf is really growing, and there’s a lot of great players coming up,” Henderson said. “But to get that and for Canadian fans and Canadian support that I’ve received over the last couple months and last couple years is unbelievable, so I’m happy to bring one home for Canada.”
Next week Henderson will play on Canadian soil in Vancouver.