Behind an early surge and a late stand, Brooke Henderson wins LA Open

Brooke Henderson

Brooke Henderson hits her tee shot on Saturday on the 2nd hole at Wilshire Country Club.

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Brooke Henderson, as a kid in Canada, played goalie. And while being peppered with pucks, she learned some things. 

“To be a goalie, you have to be a little bit strange, a little bit odd,” Henderson once told the Hockey Canada website

“Being a goalie, there’s a lot of pressure, and I was able to handle that pretty well. Now playing golf for a living, having that pressure as a goalie has really prepared me for every single week out on tour.”

Like this week. Like Saturday. Like the par-3 18th at Wilshire Country Club.

Trailing by four shots entering the final round of the Hugel-Air Premia LA Open, Henderson surged ahead by one with a birdie on 11, she built it to two with a birdie chip-in on 12, and she moved it to three with a birdie on 14. Then came the slap shots. 

  • She bogeyed 17, and the lead was two. 
  • Jessica Korda, who led after each of the first three rounds and was now tied for second, hit to within about 8 feet on 18. 
  • Henderson then hit over the green and down a slope. 
  • Henderson chipped to within a yard, but Korda would make her birdie, and the lead was one.   

Defeat was denied at the doorstep. 

Henderson made her putt, and she raised her arms in victory. 

Henderson, behind a four-under 67, held on for a one-shot win over Korda, her first win since the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give in June of 2019, and the 23-year-old’s 10th victory overall. Jin Young Ko, the world No. 1, and Hannah Green finished two strokes back, and Angela Stanford and So Yeon Ryu four.

“I think as I age I’m getting more nervous, but I was just really happy with how I went out today,” Henderson said on Golf Channel after the round. “I was a lot of shots back, but I said to myself just keep the same game plan and try to make as many birdies as I could. And I’m really happy with how everything turned out.”

It was Henderson who was applying the pressure at the start. 

She birdied the par-5 2nd and the par-4 5th. After a bogey on the par-4 6th, she birdied the par-3 7th. On the par-4 11th, she hit her approach to within 2 feet for another birdie and the one-shot lead. On the par-3 12th, she missed the green, but chipped over the slope in front of her and made her fifth birdie. She added another on the par-4 14th. 

“I was definitely disappointed that I missed the green there, but fortunately I had a lot of green to work with,” Henderson said on Golf Channel of the 12th hole. “My line wasn’t great so Britt [Henderson, her sister and caddie] said it’s going to come in low and hot, and it did a little bit. But to catch the hole there and make birdie was definitely a huge momentum change, and I think that’s what won it for me today.”  

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