Hen­der­son be­lieves a break­out is brew­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - ADAM STAN­LEY

DUNROBIN, ONT. — The re­sults have not been com­ing quite as quickly for Brooke Hen­der­son in her sec­ond year on the LPGA Tour.

Hen­der­son has two top-10 fin­ishes through 10 events this sea­son — by no means a sopho­more slump, but well be­hind her pace of eight top-10 re­sults through nine events as a ris­ing rookie last year. How­ever, the con­fi­dent 19-yearold from Smiths Falls, Ont., be­lieves a break­out will hap­pen soon.

“It’s been a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing, some of the re­sults, but I feel like my game is ex­tremely close,” Hen­der­son said at an Ot­tawa-area char­ity golf tour­na­ment while mak­ing a rare visit home. “It’s just one or two shots ev­ery week.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited about the up­com­ing tour­na­ments and, hope­fully, I can switch the mo­men­tum and fin­ish near the top.”

Hen­der­son’s best fin­ish this year has been a tie for fourth and the HSBC Women’s Cham­pi­ons in Sin­ga­pore. She fin­ished tied for 14th at the ANA In­spi­ra­tion, the first ma­jor on the LPGA Tour sched­ule in late March. She has her sights set on the other four ma­jors on the cal­en­dar, in­clud­ing the KPMG Women’s Cham­pi­onship, where she will be the de­fend­ing cham­pion.

She played the most out of any­one on the LPGA Tour last year and said she has been able to ap­ply that learn­ing. She ad­mit­ted she will take two weeks off later this sum­mer to make sure her “fo­cus and men­tal strength is where it needs to be.”

“Play­ing all the cour­ses last year, this year I knew where to hit it. I knew where the good spots and the bad spots were, even in the ho­tels I felt more com­fort­able and the sur­round­ings.” she said. “Ev­ery golf course I see, ev­ery­where I go and get to do more it makes me feel bet­ter for this year, and for years to come.”

She said she’s par­tic­u­larly look­ing for­ward to the CP Cana­dian Women’s Open in Au­gust at the Ot­tawa Hunt and Golf Club. Hen­der­son was re­cently be­stowed an honorary mem­ber­ship to that club, which last hosted the Women’s Open in 2008.

She knows it will be a pres­sure-packed week.

“Al­most ev­ery week I think about the Cana­dian Open in the back of my mind,” she said. “When there are TV cam­eras or crowds around I think about how it’s go­ing to be at the Cana­dian Open and take ev­ery week as a step­ping-stone. I know it’s go­ing to be pres­sure filled.

“There are go­ing to be a lot of ex­pec­ta­tions, for sure, and I don’t want to dis­ap­point. I want to give them a good show.”

But the pres­sure, she said, is some­thing she’s start­ing to rel­ish.

“I do think there are a lot of ex­pec­ta­tions on me, but I love pres­sure and I think it’s just what you make of it.”

And de­spite more than US$2 mil­lion in earn­ings in her career, rolling up to the course in a new BMW SUV, and just hav­ing pro­cured a home in Naples, Fla., Hen­der­son re­mains a teenager at heart.

She said she binge-watches the show “White Col­lar” on Net­flix, fol­lows her home­town Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors dur­ing their Stan­ley Cup play­off run, has a pen­chant for Dis­ney films and is a “big tex­ter” away from the golf course.

“It’s noth­ing too crazy,” she said. “Just a typ­i­cal teenager.”

Hen­der­son will take the rest of this week off, stay­ing in her home­town of Smiths Falls vis­it­ing with fam­ily and friends — she has not been back since Christ­mas — be­fore go­ing to Wil­liams­burg, Va., for the next event on the LPGA Tour sched­ule.

“I love be­ing home, even though it’s like De­cem­ber here, it’s so cold,” she said. “I’m ex­cited to get back play­ing again next week in Vir­ginia, and hope­fully have some great fin­ishes.”

HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR FILE PHOTO

Brooke Hen­der­son had a rare chance to go home and re­group.

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