If there’s a flaw in Brooke Henderson’s game, Annika Sorenstam hasn’t found it.
“She doesn’t have many weaknesses,” Sorenstam told LPGA.com via email. “She is a very natural player. Has good fundamentals and she plays the game. She has good feel, imagination and she balances that very well. She is still young so once in awhile you can see that carefree or aggressive play.”
Sorenstam and the rest of the world saw the Canadian’s carefree style on full display Sunday as Henderson put on one of the most impressive major performances in recent history, including closing with the low round of the championship to force a playoff with and ultimately defeat the world’s No.1 player, Lydia Ko, to capture her first major title at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
From the start, the week looked to belong to Henderson.
Until it didn’t.
The 18-year-old enjoyed a dream-like start to the week, recording her first hole in one on the LPGA Tour on her fourth hole of the Championship which awarded her a new car and helped give her a two-stroke lead after round one. But with a change in weather and tougher conditions in the second and third rounds resulting in back to back over par rounds of 73, Henderson dropped two-strokes behind leader Lydia Ko entering the final round.
While many players crumble under final round pressure, it’s exactly where Henderson thrives. The Canadian plays her best golf on day four, averaging 69.42 in the final rounds of 2016.
Sunday at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was no different.
“She had to trust and believe in herself. She needed to rely on her past positive experiences,” said Sorenstam, a three-time KPMG Women’s PGA Champion. “She needed to stay focused on every shot and not worry about the other players in the field.”
Henderson did exactly that, jumpstarting her round by draining a putt from long range off the front of the green at the par 5, 11th hole to cut Ko’s lead to one.
“Her eagle putt on 11 was a momentum changer. It gave her a boost and potentially some pressure on the leader Lydia Ko,” said Sorenstam.
She continued to apply the pressure on the world No.1, picking up another birdie at the 13th hole followed by another huge putt for birdie at the par 3, 17th to tie Ko at the top of the leaderboard and ultimately force a playoff.
“She was so patient and kept playing her game. Obviously, the key putts the last few holes set up for victory,” Sorenstam said.
With her win, Henderson joins Ko as the second major champion of 2016 which makes her eligible for the season ending Rolex Annika Major Award, awarded at the Evian Championship to the player with the best performance in the majors during the season. Henderson is currently second behind Ko.
Click here for the current Rolex Annika Major Award Standings.