Henderson Opens Window to Canadian History

Brooke Henderson’s Strong 2018 Showing Points to Historical Triumphs

How many articles can an industry of writers produce on Brooke Henderson? As it turns out, there is still much to say, considering the fact that she produces new sources of material on a consistent basis. She keeps winning, and we keep writing. Last April, she won the Lotte Championship, her sixth victory on tour, over Azahara Munoz. In late August, she won the Canadian Open, the first time a Canadian LPGA golfer has hoisted her own nation’s trophy since 1973, when Jocelyne Bourassa first accomplished the feat. That followed her first year in the LPGA, where she was named Rookie of the Year. Bourassa won the tournament by closing out the legendary Judy Rankin and Sandra Haynie in a playoff, by way of a 25 foot playoff putt. To introduce some perspective in how the purses have changed, Bourassa took home$10,000, and Henderson $337,500. As I considered those two victories at home, the floodgates of Canadian golf history began to open even further.

Pat Fletcher took the men’s Canadian Open in 1954. That tournament was a big deal on the PGA itinerary, and like Bourassa and Henderson, he faced a strong field. Eventually, Fletcher beat fellow Canadian Gord Brydson and American Bill Welch. A Youtube video can be seen online of the final hole in that championship. With a long second shot to the green that could spell victory or a catastrophic change in fortunes, Fletcher drilled a 2-iron to a potential birdie distance from the cup, sealing the deal. Before that crucial 2-iron, he could be seen addressing the ball, stepping away, and addressing it again several times. In addition to the video, I was interested to see his youngest child Ted Fletcher speak as a representative of the Pat Fletcher Scholarship Foundation following Henderson’s win. As a gesture to the men’s perspective, Fletcher took home $3,200. The most recent winner, Dustin Johnson took home 1.6 million. It makes one wonder if we should go back in time and split the modern earnings, considering the hard work everyone had to do in order to win these tournaments.

Canadian Mike Weir won eight times on the PGA Tour. The first one took place on Northview in Surrey, British Columbia. The native of Ontario beat American Fred Funk by two. With the importance of the Open to the PGA year, the Masters winner faced many of the same leading players he had faced in the Masters win.

Returning to Brooke Henderson, the 21-year old star who took the $150,000 bonus from the Race to the CME Globe has now been named Canadian Female Athlete of the Year for three of the past four years. The full name of the prize is the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award. Rosenfeld was a Canadian Olympic medalist in track and field, and excelled in multiple sports. She  was named the Athlete of the Half-Century through 1950. The first winner of her prize, I soon learned, was Ada Mackenzie, who won the award five times in the ’50s and early ’60s. MacKenzie founded the Ladies Golf Club of Toronto in 1924, following a period as instructor at her Alma Mater, Havergal College. She also worked for the Canadian Bank of Commerce and worked in the golf fashion industry for women.

I believe it follows that when one is speaking of national sports, sporting families, organizations and, at times, regions, scratch a winner, and you’ll find a history of winners. For me, such a search offers more fascination than merely characterizing a modern star as an island, separate from his or her history. A talent such as Henderson doesn’t come along very often, but by the same token, such an emerging star doesn’t come from nowhere. It may be difficult for us to see, but a player such as Henderson was guided along and ushered in by events in 1924, 1954, and others. Such possibilities don’t come solely from the golf course, either, but from scholarships, youth organizations, and sometimes, just the sight of a fellow national winning on the world stage. In my case, I view Henderson’s considerable accomplishments as increasingly important, because now I can view them through a larger, historical window.

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