If Brooke Henderson were a baseball pitcher it would be the fastball all the time. If she played pro basketball she’d be firing up the 3-point shots like Steph Curry or Diana Taurasi. But she plays golf and that means take the driver and rip it. Brooke the Basher simply overpowered Wascana Country Club in Regina, Saskatchewan, to take the CP Women’s Open by four strokes over teenager Angel Yin on Sunday.
The 20-year-old Canadian won her seventh LPGA tournament and became the first Canadian to win the women’s national championship since Jocelyne Bourassa in 1973. She is now also only one win away from tying Sandra Post for most LPGA wins by a Canadian. And Henderson did it with an impressive display of power as she fearlessly attacked the golf course.
Averaging more than 286 yards with her driver off the tee, Henderson closed with a 65 to finish at 21-under-par 267 with Yin in second place at 271. Jennifer Song, who made six birdies in a row beginning on No. 8, was at 273 with Minjee Lee, Amy Yang, Austin Ernst and Su Oh at 274. Nasa Hatakoa ended at 275 with Maria Torres, Anna Nordqvist, Lydia Ko and Rolex No. 1 Sung Hyun Park.
“It’s amazing,” Henderson said amid champagne, tears and cheers from a delirious gallery. “It’s just surreal. The crowds have been amazing all week. It’s a dream come true.” Then, remembering her grandfathers, who she lost earlier this year, Brooke unsuccessfully fought back tears as she added: “To get this for my family is really special.”
The victory was Henderson’s second of the year and she joins Park and Ariya Jutanugarn, who each have three victories, as the only multiple winners in 2018. In all, 19 different players from nine countries have won the 24 events played this season.
Henderson, who started the day one stroke ahead of Hataoka and Yin and two clear of Park, made back-to-back birdies on No. 5 and 6 to open up a three-stroke lead. She turned with that advantage and refused to take her foot off the gas pedal, never opting to shun her choked-down driver that not only goes far but also finds the fairway with reliable regularity.
Chatting away with her caddie, sister Brittany, Henderson rode the energy of the large, adoring home-country gallery as she attacked the golf course not just with her driver but her putter as well, aggressively going after every birdie opportunity she had. Her front nine birdies on Sunday were three 15-footers and an 18-inch kick in.
The umbrellas came out as the final group was playing No. 10 and the rest of the round was played in off-and-on rain. But Henderson, who is from the Ottawa area, is well versed in Canadian weather. Those who made major runs were too far back to seriously pressure Henderson, including Torres, who made four birdies in five holes beginning on No. 9. Mo Martin closed with a 62 to finish at 276. Of those with a chance to win, Henderson easily had the best round of the day.
When Oh rolled in a 10-footer on No. 11 she pulled within two of Henderson and was soon joined by Yin when she rolled in a 20-footer on No. 11. But the Canadian took control when she overpowered the par-5 12th hole, hitting pin-high on the 503-yard hole in two and then chipping deftly to 4 feet for a birdie. She followed that by stuffing her approach shot to 2 feet on No. 13 and then hit the par-5 14th in two shots for her third birdie in a row and followed that with a 10-footer on No. 15 for a fourth consecutive birdie.
Yin, who had previously finished third, fourth and fifth in LPGA events, took another step forward toward her first LPGA win. She made three birdies in a row beginning on No. 13 as she tried in vain to hang with Henderson. The 19-year-old Californian is growing more comfortable with the spotlight each week and seems poised for a breakthrough.
Once again, the youthful depth of the LPGA talent pool was on full display. After 54 holes, the top-11 on the leaderboard at the CP Women’s Open had an average age of 23 and on Sunday, Henderson at 20 was the oldest player in the final threesome as both Yin and Hataoka are 19.But when it comes to talking about the youthful talent on tour, Henderson’s name is among the very first that should be mentioned. She plays an exciting brand of golf that thrills the gallery and rattles her opponents. With seven wins, including a major championship, Henderson is well on her way to being the greatest female player ever from Canada and may soon be in the conversation for best in the world.