Brooke Henderson had just finished up the final round of the first major of the LPGA Tour season when she returned to her hotel room in California to watch the finale of the Drive, Chip, and Putt competition.
What she saw was, perhaps, the second coming of herself.
Vanessa Borovilos, an 11-year-old from Toronto, captured the title for girls ages 10 and 11 at the annual junior golf competition’s championship final at Augusta National, the host club of the Masters.
Borovilos came to the event with a wealth of experience, both international and abroad. 2018 marks her third appearance at Drive, Chip & Putt, in addition to finishing 2nd in 2017 at the Canadian equivalent—the Future Links, driven by Acura Junior Skills Challenge. Borovilos gave Henderson cause to get excited at the future of Canadian female golf.
“I was able to see Vanessa win the Drive, Chip, and Putt last night and was so proud of her,” said Henderson on Monday.
Borovilos said Henderson is one of her favourite golfers. She loves the way Henderson stays focused on the course and tries to bring some of that to her own preparation.
“I know every shot counts but for those shots that really counts, (Henderson) really focuses, and she plays really good,” said Borovilos by phone from Augusta, Ga.
Henderson said it was an honour to hear that Borovilos looks up to her.
“She had a great quote after the victory about how important practice is in order to succeed in competition. If she sticks to that advice, she’ll be able to follow her dreams on the golf course,” said Henderson. “Who knows, maybe I will see her out here on the LPGA one day.”
Borovilos, who was one of three Canadians to make the finals of the Drive, Chip, and Putt competition, attends Hollycrest Middle School in Toronto, where she is part of an elite athlete program that allows her to finish school each day before noon.
She spends most afternoons at Peak Performance Golf – an indoor practice facility in Vaughn, Ont. – or at Mississauga’s Credit Valley Golf and Country Club, where she works under PGA of Canada professional Doug Lawrie.
Lawrie, who has coached Borovilos for the last five years, was in church Sunday during the finals of the Drive, Chip, and Putt and had his phone turned off. He returned home to watch the recorded coverage and then turned his phone on to a flurry of messages.
He said he is impressed by Borovilos’s work ethic, and that her game continues to get better. She weighs just 77 pounds, for example, and she swings her driver at 80 miles per hour.
“All of a sudden? boom. This young lady is thrust into the limelight of some pretty amazing stuff. It doesn’t hurt that she’s got the game to back it up, because it’s not like just she’s a Drive, Chip, and Putt person that’s been able to get through the qualifier and win,” said Lawrie. “She has the ability to take (golf) to wherever she wants.”
Borovilos’s father, Dino, was on hand at Augusta National. He said his daughter is committed to succeeding in the classroom as well and is a straight-A student.
Borovilos needed to roll her final putt closer than 2.1 inches in order to win the title, and the putt ended up two inches away from the hole, giving her the victory by the slimmest of margins.
“It was an emotional roller coaster all day,” Dino Borovilos said. “But it was literally the happiest win I’ve seen her have.”
The accolades and trophy took the backseat to a bigger victory came Monday, when she got Tiger Woods’ autograph after watching a Masters practice round at Augusta.
“I had to wait a long time,” she said with a laugh. “But it was worth it once I got it.”