With her 11th win career behind her at last week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic, Brooke Henderson goes hunting this week for a dozen at the Meijer LPGA Classic at the Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Mich
“This courses really suits my eye. It’s been a lot of fun ever since I first came her in — I guess 2016 was my first year. I feel like there is lots of birdie opportunities and that makes it really fun,” said Henderson, who won in Grand Rapids in 2017 and 2019.
“I definitely love coming back here. My brother-in-law is from here, so it’s really awesome to have lots of family and friends that come out to watch,” she said.
“It’s just really nice to see them again. I feel like being this close to Canada. A lot of fans come across the border and come and watch too, which is cool to get that support,” she added.
“It reminds me a lot of growing up back home. The grasses are similar and, of course, it reminds me of quite a few holes that I used to play growing up,” said Henderson.
“So lots of great memories here and being a two-time champion, it’s exciting to kind of think, oh, yeah, I was here right in this spot and I putted to that hole and I made it. This is what happened after that, so it’s nice reflect on those memories and think about them,” said Henderson.
Not all memories are happy as Henderson missed the cut last year, an event won by Nelly Korda, who she will join for the first two rounds here.
Henderson realizes that not only can the golf course, as friendly as it’s been to her, can also bite her. Also, she’ll require a hot putter, which she had last week, but that isn’t always the case.
“I missed the cut here last year, so you can definitely get bit, even though you’re playing all right. You have to be very strategic on certain holes, but once you hit it in good places off the tee, then you usually have a lot of birdie looks,” she said.
“The last couple years, the couple of changes they made makes it definitely more challenging, some bunkers that stick out into the fairways and some of the run-offs around the greens,” said Henderson.
“So you do have to be strategic, but if you’re playing well and hitting it in good spots, you do have some good opportunities,” she added.
“Any time you’re winning, you have to make a lot of putts, so hopefully, the putter is working well this week. I think off the tee here, you know, hitting it in certain spots, like I kind of mentioned before, and even it applies more so now that they have the extra bunkers and how thick the rough is, especially the first couple yards off the fairway,” said Henderson.
“So I think hitting it long and straight off the tee will be a key this week, first step to get you to making some birdies,” she added.
Henderson started the season with four top-10 finishes in her first five events, but cooled off with a WD and two missed cuts. She didn’t play at all in May before returning earlier this month with a tie for 15th at the U.S. Women’s Open just before her win last week.
One of the changes she made was a left-hand-low putting style that Henderson has been working on with her sister/caddie Brittany and her dad/coach Dave.
“I started off the year really hot and I had a lot of great finishes and kind of cooled off and I wasn’t feeling so well and things kind of went a little bit cold there for a little while,” said Henderson.
“Definitely having the putting back in my corner and feeling a little bit more comfortable all the time is really key. I feel like left-hand-low has made a big difference and so I’m excited moving forward,” she said.
Her win last week came with good timing with a major, next week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., on the horizon.
That also is an event at which Henderson is a past champion after winning her first major in 2016.
“After winning my first major, my life changed. I got a lot more attention and things really started going really well for me. I feel like I owe a lot to that event,” said Henderson.
“I haven’t won a major since then, so hopefully, that will change shortly. Just a being a major champion is what I think every golfer kind of dreams about and I look forward to the opportunity to get to do it again,” she said.
Henderson, Korda and Sei Young Kim will tee off at 12:59 p.m. local time in Thursday’s first round.