Brooke Henderson loves breaking records and this week she’s got a dubious one hanging over her head.
Since 2016, no LPGA Tour player has won the opening tournament of the season and then won a second title in the same year. Henderson, from Smiths Falls, Ont., kicked off 2023 with a victory at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions on Jan. 22 and is in the field at this week’s CME Group Tour Championship, the climax of the professional women’s golf season, still looking for her second win of the year.
“It’s a really weird stat that I don’t like very much,” said Henderson with a laugh. “I thought I would break it earlier but maybe it kind of got in my head a little bit.
“This would be the perfect week to break that and bookend the season; win the first one, win the last one, that would be obviously ideal.”
Henderson is the only Canadian in the 60-golfer field at Tiburón Golf Club’s Gold Course in Naples, Fla. She enters the tournament ranked 14th in the CME Globe rankings.
At last year’s CME Group Tour Championship, Henderson had an outside shot at finishing atop the standings, but was hampered by a back injury. Instead, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko won the event and the season’s championship.
“The off-season, for me last year was huge,” said Henderson. “I put in a lot of work to strengthen and heal and it has really paid off.
“Knock on wood, I don’t have the issues that I had last year. That was another thing coming into this week: I was really excited that I’m a lot healthier than where I was this time last year.”
The PGA Tour also concludes its season with the RSM Classic. Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., is the defending champion. His victory at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course in Saint Simons Island, Ga., last year was the start to a breakout season for Svensson.
“It is my best year here on the PGA Tour,” he said. “I feel like I’ve played my best golf in my career and I feel like I’m getting better and better.
“Hopefully, I can keep it going.”
The RSM Classic is the seventh and final PGA Tour event of the FedExCup Fall. All seven tournaments featured winner’s benefits, including a two-year PGA Tour exemption, 500 FedExCup points and invitations to The Sentry, The Players Championship, the Masters and the PGA Championship in 2024.
Svensson enters the event 37th on the FedEx Cup standings, guaranteed a PGA Tour card next season as well as spots in the circuit’s premium events.
He’ll be joined by at least seven other Canadians next season.
Nick Taylor (25th) of Abbotsford, B.C., Corey Conners (26th) of Listowel, Ont, Adam Hadwin (45th) from Abbotsford, Mackenzie Hughes (53rd) of Dundas, Ont., and Taylor Pendrith (86th) of Richmond Hill, Ont., have also retained their tour cards.
Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., and Ben Silverman of Thornhill, Ont., have earned cards through their rankings on the second-tier Korn Ferry Tour.
Svensson has played more PGA Tour golf than most of the top 50 players on tour, including most of the fall events. He said that’s just a product of his passion for the sport more than any kind of strategy.
“I love playing I love competing and I feel like I learn so much each week,” said Svensson. “Even if I don’t play good I still learn and if I play great I learned so I feel like the more events I play … the better I get.”
Conners, Hughes, and Pendrith are also in the field at the RSM Classic this week, as is Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont. Gligic is 204th on the FedEx Cup standings and needs a strong showing this week to clinch a tour membership for next year.