Brooke Henderson made a splash on the LPGA Tour last year and was added to the list of teenage superstars to join the Tour after her win last August at the Cambia Portland Classic. The 18-year old from Smith Falls, Ontario, recorded four top-five finishes including two in majors and her eight-stroke win. Commissioner Mike Whan granted her LPGA membership following her win and Henderson decided to claim membership immediately and played in four events as a rookie to close out the year.
Asked to give herself a grade on how her 2015 season went, Henderson said she was extremely pleased with her on-course performance.
“I think last year was kind of an A-plus year,” said Henderson. “I did a lot of really good things and I’m hoping to just continue those on this year. Every day use it to be able to get better as a person and as a golfer and just continue to get better. Last year I did a lot of awesome things and things that I’m looking to build on. Like I said, just be better.”
Henderson has good memories in the Bahamas and Monday qualified here a year ago and made her first LPGA start as a professional. She said one of her short-term goals is to get off to a strong start for the season and a good showing here at the Ocean Club would help with that.
“Yeah, I have a lot of good memories here in the Bahamas,” said Henderson. “It was my first LPGA Tour event as a professional golfer and I was able to make the cut and I finished around 36th last year, which was pretty steady. I know I had some room to improve for the weekend. I didn’t climb up as much as I would have liked to. But I learned, like you said, a lot about the course and a lot about the conditions to expect here because it can get extremely windy and a storm can blow in at any time, so just kind of being aware of all the factors is really key.”
BIGGER AND BETTER HONORS
Brooke Henderson made it clear she had no problem with missing out on winning the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of Year after claiming immediate membership last August. The teen now has her eyes set on bigger honors in 2016.
“Not too much,” said Henderson after being asked if there was any twinge on not winning top rookie honors. “I’m just honored to be a member of the LPGA and I’m going to give it my all this year. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to take home that trophy, but I’ll still do my best.”
How about Player of the Year?
“Yeah, exactly, I’ll chase after that instead,” said Henderson.
WHAT’S NOT EXCITING ABOUT THAT OFF SEASON?
Those who follow Michelle Wie on social media know that the past few months during her off-season were anything but boring. But the four-time LPGA winner claimed that her down time consisted of “physio, yoga, hiking and getting her body right.” She said resting was the most important part after going through a 2015 season that was plagued by illness and injury.
The 26-year old must have forgotten to mention the shark diving and filling in for one of the best golfers of all time at a clinic earlier this month. The clinic seemed more in Wie’s comfort zone and she tells the entertaining story of when she learned she would be diving with sharks without a cage:
“It was definitely a bucket list item that me and my best friend have always wanted to do since forever. We kind of have this list of post golf bucket list. I don’t think she knows that I can’t do a lot of stuff so she had a contact that had shark diving and I was like, it’s in a cage, right? It’s in a cage? She was like yeah, yeah. We’re together the day before, I was like, it’s in a cage, right? You called, right? She’s like yeah, yeah, I’m sure it is. I’m like, you didn’t call. Finally we get there and I’m like, it’s in a cage, right? She’s like, yeah I’m sure it is. I’m like, what do you mean you’re sure it is. It’s in a cage or it’s not in a cage. Did you call? She’s like, no, I didn’t call. So we get there and they’re like, oh, yeah, there’s no cage, there’s no need for a cage. We’re going to go to a place where they naturally hang out, there’s 30, 40 sharks. We went three miles out and I’m literally just about to faint.”
“I put my fins on, I’m ready to go in, and I was like, I can’t, guys, I can’t, I can’t go in. They were like you can do it. I’m like, okay, fine. I got in the water and it was like amazing. It was so peaceful. They were just swimming around you. They’re huge, it was awesome.”
Earlier this month, Wie helped out fellow Stanford alum and Nike Golf athlete Tiger Woods after his foundation made the call to see if she would be the demonstrator while Woods still recovers from a back injury. Although they hadn’t bumped into each other for 14 years, Wie said she did receive some short game tips from the 14-time major champ but wouldn’t divulge any details.
“A secret, but it was cool,” said Wie. “We were just kind of talking about it and stuff. I mean, he’s the best short game, besides Phil. All the guys are good at short game, he has to be one of the best. It’s just cool to hear him talk about and kind of work through things.”
PLANNING IS EVERYTHING
Brooke Henderson made 15 total starts last season on the LPGA Tour, four as an LPGA member, but was hopping around the country for Monday qualifiers and asking for sponsor exemptions to get into events. This year, in her second year on Tour, Henderson said she is most looking forward to actually knowing where she will be months in advance. She even had a happy tone when she talked about booking flights and organizing travel for the year.
“Really excited just to get the year started,” said Henderson. “I’ll be playing a full schedule this year, which is something that’s really different from last year where I didn’t really know where I was going to play or what events, where this year I can plan in advance. I’m already starting to book flights and hotels like three, four months in advance where last year I was booking it like the day before. So it’s definitely a big change, but I learned so much from my year last year.”
“Well, my ranking moved up an incredible amount last year from over 200th down to 18th right now, so I’m looking to improve on that every single week and hopefully climb up those other 17 spots not necessarily this year but hopefully in the years to come.” -Brooke Henderson on one of her goals, to become No. 1 in the world
“I didn’t really tell them that until afterwards. I was like yeah, so I went shark driving, all my limbs are still here.” -Michelle Wie on telling her team that she went shark diving in the offseason
TV Times this week for PURE SILK-BAHAMAS LPGA CLASSIC
All times listed are Eastern
Jan. 28 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Jan. 29 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Jan. 30 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Jan. 31 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
KEY NUMBERS TO KNOW
8- 2016 LPGA Tour rookies who are making their debuts as members this week 3 – Brooke Henderson is only the third player ever to win before her 18th birthday among a group that includes only Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson
4 – Pure Silk-Bahamas tees off for its fourth edition here at Paradise Island on the heels of both co-sponsors Pure Silk and Bahamas Tourism announcing a three-year extension of this event that will see it take place in paradise through at least 2018
25 – Brooke Henderson has finished in the top 25 in her last five starts
T33 – After playing her way into the field last year via the Monday Qualifier, Brooke Henderson finished in T33 here a year ago
44.27 – Bahamas record holder in the 400 meter, Steven Gardiner, with a time of 44.27 seconds participated in an exchanging of knowledge Tuesday with Gardiner teaching three LPGA pros and Olympic hopefuls - Gaby Lopez, Laetitia Beck, and Paula Reto - how to come out of the sprinting blocks while they taught him how to play golf. Lopez, Beck, and Reto are all in the Olympics field as of now if the qualifier deadline were today
63 – LPGA 2016 season kicks off here with a record 63 million plus in prizes spread over 34 events spread across 14 countries