Henderson competes in U.S. Women’s Open at course where she made her major debut

Brooke M. Henderson
Brooke M. Henderson (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

So much has changed for Brooke Henderson since she last played in a U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club.

Henderson was playing in Monday qualifiers and earning sponsor exemptions for LPGA Tour events back in 2015 after her request for an age waiver to compete at Q School in late 2014 was denied. Then just 17 years old, she qualified for the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open based on her score at the previous year’s event, which she had earned her way into through a qualifying event as an amateur.

Despite that difficult road to the major, Henderson tied for fifth and turned pro the next month after winning her first-ever LPGA Tour title at the Cambia Portland Classic.

“That was an incredible week for me to finish top five,” said Henderson this week at Lancaster. “I was just trying to get my Tour card at that point, so any time I was able to play on such a big stage and especially an important event such as this.

“I played really well on the weekend, climbed up a bunch of spots, and to get that T-5 was really special.”

Henderson, from Smiths Falls, Ont., has racked up wins since that summer, and her 13 on the LPGA Tour are the most victories ever for a Canadian golfer regardless of gender. That tie for fifth, however, is still the best she’s ever done in a U.S. Women’s Open despite winning two other majors.

“Everything is just a little bit harder,” said Henderson of the unique challenge U.S. Women’s Opens present to golfers. “The course is a little bit longer. The rough is a little bit longer. Greens are quicker, more slope. Just everything about it.

“You’ve really got to pay attention and have a strategy. But then when that strategy doesn’t work, then to be gritty and grind it out.”

Henderson is fifth on the Race to CME Globe standings with five top-10 finishes in 10 events so far this year. American Nelly Korda is the runaway leader, however, with six wins and another top 10 finish in eight tournaments.

Korda took last week off, but credited her coaches and staying in a mental “bubble” away from all the attention that comes on the LPGA Tour for her success this season.

“We all just know that we’re out here doing what we love,” said Korda of her team. “We all have the same goals in mind, and we’re trying to accomplish one thing, and that’s to hopefully lift the trophy by the end of the week.”

Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., is the only other Canadian in the field at the second women’s golf major of the season. Leblanc is 131st in the LPGA Tour’s standings and earned a berth in a qualifier at Haworth Country Club in Haworth, N.J. on May 13.

American Lexi Thompson, an 11-time winner on the LPGA Tour, announced on Tuesday that she will retire from the top professional women’s golf circuit this season. The 29-year-old will be making her 18th appearance in the U.S. Women’s Open.

“This is my 14th full-time year. Golf has been my life ever since I was five years old, tournaments when I was seven,” she said at a news conference. “I haven’t really known much of a life different, but it’s been an amazing one.

“This sport has taught me a lot, and I’ve learned so much along the way, built so many friendships and relationships. I’m looking forward to what life has in store.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2024.