Hen­der­son ex­pects big pay­off in 2017

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

ADE­LAIDE, AUS­TRALIA — Brooke Hen­der­son ex­pects her hard work in 2016 is go­ing to pay off in the new LPGA sea­son.

Hen­der­son teed off at the Women’s Aus­tralian Open Wed­nes­day, look­ing to build on her first full sea­son as a pro­fes­sional where she reached as high as No. 2 in the world rank­ings. She was one of the busiest play­ers on the LPGA Tour last year and, al­though it was ex­haust­ing, Hen­der­son be­lieves it will pay off in the long run.

“I think it was re­ally im­por­tant be­cause I got to know what the cour­ses were like, what the fans were like in that area,” Hen­der­son said. “I got to get a feel for the ho­tels, the golf cour­ses, what trav­el­ling to that place was like, the time changes. I learned a lot of in­for­ma­tion about ev­ery place that I went, and so this year I can be a lit­tle bit more care­ful and kind of con­time serve my en­ergy a lit­tle bit bet­ter and just go to the places that I want to go to.”

The 19-year-old from Smiths Falls fin­ished in a tie for 21st place at the LPGA Clas­sic last month. She showed mo­ments of bril­liance at that event, in­clud­ing an 8un­der 65 in the se­cond round, but also had an un­der­whelm­ing 73 the next day.

She’s joined at the Aus­tralian Open by three other Canadians: Hamil­ton’s Alena Sharp, Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sher­brooke, Que., and Cal­gary’s Jen­nifer Ha.

Hen­der­son, who fin­ished last sea­son in the No. 8 po­si­tion, is hope­ful her world rank­ing will rise over the com­ing months.

“I think every­body out on the LPGA Tour, their goal is to be the No. 1 player in the world, and that, of course, is very dif­fi­cult to do,” said Hen­der­son. “(World No. 1) Ly­dia Ko has done an in­cred­i­ble and amaz­ing job. Her ca­reer is in­cred­i­ble, but be­ing in that No. 2 po­si­tion for a short last sum­mer was re­ally ex­cit­ing. Watch­ing it kind of slip away was heart­break­ing, so hope­fully I get up to a lit­tle bit faster start this year and see my world rank­ing climb.”

Added Hen­der­son: “I think by the end of 2017 (I’ll) def­i­nitely be in the top five, and if I get a chance to be bet­ter than that, I’ll try and do that.”

All three of Hen­der­son’s ca­reer tour wins came on tight, tree-lined cour­ses. This year’s Women’s Aus­tralian Open will be on the links-style Seaton course at The Royal Ade­laide Golf Club, a more wide-open course that won’t nec­es­sar­ily suit Hen­der­son’s play­ing style.

“I’m kind of us­ing this week as a chal­lenge and, like I said, not nor­mally the course that I nec­es­sar­ily play my best on, but I’m def­i­nitely look­ing for­ward to it this week and I feel like good things might hap­pen.”

GABRIEL ROUX, SMITH FALLS RECORD NEWS

Canada’s Brooke Hen­der­son be­gins the 2017 LPGA sea­son at the Women’s Aus­tralian Open in Ade­laide.

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