As Brooke Henderson looks back on her six years as a full time player on the LPGA Tour, the major she’s about to play later this week is a beacon in what is such a large collection of career accomplishments for somebody who turned 23 less than a month ago.
When she won her the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in a playoff against Lydia Ko, it was her first major championship and the second of nine wins on tour to date. She nearly pulled it off again the following year, but finished second by a shot to Danielle Kang.
“I think that was just such a life-changing event and just everything seemed to go to perfectly. It was just a great week from the hole-in-one on Thursday to hoisting the trophy on Sunday and to have (sister/caddie) Brit by my side for it, it just was a remarkable week,” said Henderson.
“This tournament, KPMG, and the PGA, they’ve been a huge part of my career so far, getting a sponsor’s invite in 2015 and then playing. I guess I finished second in 2017, so this tournament has just been huge in my career,” she said.
Whether the stars are aligning once again at the KPMG remains to be seen, bu t it’s difficult to ignore that she had two top 10 finishes as she arrived at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia.
At the last major, the ANA Inspiration, Mirim Lee slipped in at the end to take the title, leaving Henderson tied for second. On the weekend, she tied for sixth at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, the 51st top 10 of her career.
Currently, Henderson leads the tour in greens in regulation at 78.6 per cent and is second in scoring average at 69.381.
“The last few weeks have been really good to me and that’s been really exciting to see that I’m back in contention,” said Henderson, currently ranked fourth in the world.
“Near or in the final groups on the weekend is always a lot of fun and to play as well as I did at ANA and then back it up last week at ShopRite, my game feels like it’s in a really good spot, so I’m really excited going into this week, especially when I have such a great history here at this event and this golf course just looks amazing, so I’m excited,” she said.
This week’s course is a Donald Ross design that will play to 6,577 yards and par 70. Like many Ross designs, Aronimink will place a premium on the approach shot into difficult green complexes.
“The thing about when the golf course moves around every year, you have to really pay attention Monday through Wednesday to get prepared,” she said.
“Brit is out walking the course, getting the numbers, making sure everything is correct, and just seeing a golf course for the first time, you really just have to pay attention these first three days and try to get a solid strategy together, so we’ve been trying to do that,” said Henderson.
“These greens are massive and very slopey,” she added,
“It’s just really important these first three days to try to learn them as best you can. Luckily, we do have a greens book and Brit is a good green reader, so I can depend on her,” said Henderson.
“I think just pace on putts. Even if your ball-striking is decent, you know you’re going to have long putts at some point during this tournament,and just trying to read them the best you can,” said Henderson.
“The course is playing very long. I’ve hit more hybrids in the last few days than I have in a really long time, so I think it just kind of depends on the wind, and hopefully, they’ll move us up a little bit on some holes just because it is so soft out there,” she added,
“I feel like if you can hit it long and hit it straight, then you’ll have some good looks, especially on the shorter holes,” said Henderson.
Tee times are here,
Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member Sandra Post has a tournament preview here,