Wins First Major in Second Year
A lot of us sensed that this was coming a year ago or more. It’s not an easy thing to sense. because the game of women’s golf is filled to the brim with talents from all over the world. Who can tell which one will have staying power? The first thing Brooke Henderson did was to become a presence. Winning every week isn’t the way it works. You spend time letting them know you’re here, and did she ever let them know. Then, last year, Henderson won a tour event, and any delay about getting her into the ranks was expedited. She threatened to win numerous times, putting in 11 top ten finishes. From there, it was only a matter of time.
There are three major historic events in terms of tour victories by Canadian golfers. Sandra Post won a major in 1968, and Mike Weir’s Masters victory still stands as the biggest deal of all. There have been many other fine players, men and women. However, if you’re an ardent fan of the LPGA, Henderson’s win at the KPMG Women’s PG Championship is an extremely big deal, not only because it’s a major, but because she caught world number one Lydia Ko while Ko was playing good golf. Can many of us imagine how difficult that is?
It took Henderson some pretty fancy highlights to accomplish such a feat. All through the tournament, she pulled rabbit after rabbit out of the hat, beginning with an ace in the early going. For that, she not only edged out par by two, but won a new car – which she gave to her sister. I’d love to see family holidays at that house this year, On an unforgiving course, Henderson spent her fair share of time playing in the sandbox, but repeatedly saved score from the bunkers, to the astonishment of a gallery whose tickets were absolutely worth double the price for this one. And, just to show off, she holed out from 100 yards away – another eagle, although she didn’t win a car for that one. Still not content, Henderson rolled in a thirty-foot plus birdie putt, and the result of all these uncanny shots was a draw with the great one. Henderson had one more shot in the bag, though, and she stole the trophy on the first hole of sudden death, with a 7-iron three feet from the hole. When Ko missed her birdie putt, it was all over. Canada was on its feet, and looking good – very good.
What a rare combination you’ve got to have with this game, so elusive that it can abandon you in a split second. Henderson gave full reign to her talent in pushing toward a victorious conclusion, but the will to win is just a pipe dream if you don’t have control of yourself, and discipline in both your swing and judgment. On a big stage with a big competitor, the demands on her nerves had to be immense, and she called on as much maturity as she did natural gift.
Henderson describes her own journey as “incredible.” The speed of her rise is one of its most incredible aspects, and she hasn’t appeared as a flash in the pan. Her ascendency has come the way it does with many stars, only more accelerated than most. I couldn’t help noticing and appreciating the way the two champions interacted with each other – since we who live down south are embroiled in political season, it was a wonderful breath of fresh air to see a top-level demonstration of character. Henderson isn’t ready to take a rest yet, even though being 18 doesn’t make one immune to exhaustion. As she eyes more wins and perhaps some gold in Rio later in the summer, I can’t help but think that, like Ko and a few others, she’s here to stay. We may see a lot more of this in the coming years.