Why Brooke Henderson thinks her game is trending up at KPMG Women’s PGA

Brooke Henderson reacts to a putt at Baltusrol Golf Club's Lower Course in a practice round for the KPMG Women's PGA Championship on Tuesday, June 20, 2023.

Brooke Henderson has had an up-and-down 2023. But she feels her game is rounding into form ahead of the busiest stretch of the year.

Jack Hirsh/GOLF

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — Despite a win at the LPGA season-opener, Brooke Henderson’s 2023 hasn’t gone exactly as she’d hoped.

But you never would have known that watching her enjoy a practice round with her three pro-am partners Tuesday. Henderson was nothing but joyful during the pre-tournament pro-am for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship with both her and her sister/caddie Brit, doing their best to guide her partners around Baltusrol’s Lower Course.

As opposed to some pros who don’t love the idea of prepping for big tournaments while shepherding around a three-or-foursome of weekend hacks, Henderson actually said she welcomes the opportunity to play a pro-am.

“You get to see the golf course another time. You get to see it in a little bit different way than just practicing,” Henderson said. “There’s not a lot of pressure but a little bit of pressure to perform and to hit fairways and hit greens, and I kind of like that leading into a championship. You get to play with some really cool people, and you get to learn what they do on a daily basis, what they do for work, and I find that pretty interesting.”

Not that anyone would expect Henderson to be grumpy, she’s far too mild-mannered for that. But after triumphing over a stacked field at the HGV Tournament of Champions in January, she’s yet to finish better than T11 since. That’s after being a model of consistency in 2022, recording 11 top-10s including two wins, one of which was her second career major title at the Evian Championship.

However, despite the lackluster play of late, Henderson feels her game is trending in the midst of one of her busiest stretches of the season. She’s set to play her fifth tournament in as many weeks at Baltusrol, and with this being a major week, she has her father and coach Dave on hand this week.

Brooke Henderson feels her game is trending up. Jack Hirsh/GOLF

“It’s nice to have the team together where we can make smart decisions together and try to come up with a strategy and kind of try to make it fun, even though it’s a really tough week,” Henderson said. “My dad has been my coach since I was young, so it’s always great when he’s out here and we can work on strategy and work on different parts of the game. This week is no different.

“He’s just trying to make sure that my game is in a good spot, both mentally and physically, and we’ve been working to try to get a strategy together.”

One thing Henderson and her father aren’t working on is wholesale swing changes this week. She said patience is biggest key to success.

“It’s a challenging golf course,” she said. “You’re going to have to stay patient through the good and the bad, and hopefully there’s more good than bad. It’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to be a test.”

She also made it clear, she hasn’t had the finishes she wanted, but it hasn’t been the end of the world.

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“I’m still making a living out here, which is good,” Henderson said.

She’s still in the top 10 of the Rolex Ranking, and despite the subpar form, she has only missed two cuts this season. She just wants to be in contention more often.

Asked if it was tougher to return to form when she’s had ups and downs like this season or from simply just poor play, Henderson didn’t hesitate to bring up her win from January.

“I definitely never take away the win or never take away the ups. I feel like golf, just like life, it’s like a roller coaster. There’s lots of up-and-downs, and hopefully there’s more ups,” she said. “When you’re not playing your best, it kind of reminds you of how good it is and how exciting it is to win. When you have those top finishes, sometimes when you have them all in a row, you kind of take them for granted I would say, but when you have a little bit of trouble here and there, it kind of refreshes you and says, like ‘Oh, yeah, it’s a lot of hard work to be at the top.’

“And when you’re up there, you should celebrate your wins and your good finishes a little bit more because it is such a tough grind.”

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