HIT­TING RE­SET

Hen­der­son look­ing for­ward to switch­ing up her ap­proach at Bri­tish Open

The Province - - SPORTS | GOLF - ADAM STAN­LEY

Af­ter a tough sum­mer, Brooke Hen­der­son is hop­ing a change of scenery will do her some good.

The na­tive of Smiths Falls, Ont., took last week off of the LPGA Tour to pre­pare for this week’s Women’s Bri­tish Open. The break came fol­low­ing a rough stretch that be­gan with Hen­der­son’s with­drawal from the U.S. Women’s Open in June to be with her ail­ing grand­fa­ther, who passed away.

Four weeks later, Hen­der­son fell out of the lead at the KPMG Women’s PGA Cham­pi­onship af­ter shoot­ing a fi­nal round of 2-over 74. She told The Cana­dian Press in mid-July her other grand­fa­ther is now sick as well.

But she said she feels good about her game this week af­ter fin­ish­ing third at her last event, the Marathon Clas­sic. And she said golf is a nice way for her to stay fo­cused and ig­nore out­side dis­trac­tions.

“Once I’m be­tween the ropes, I can flip that switch and work to­wards my goals for that week,” said Hen­der­son,

who has won six times on the LPGA Tour.

Although Hen­der­son is no stranger to hav­ing to play the type of bad weather that of­ten ac­com­pa­nies the Bri­tish Open, it hasn’t yet trans­lated into a good fin­ish at the third ma­jor of the year. Her best re­sult at the event is a tie for 49th.

But the 20-year-old won

in New Zealand last year, and it came dur­ing rough weather con­di­tions on a links-style course. She said she’s hope­ful she can par­lay that into suc­cess this week at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club in Lan­cashire, Eng­land.

“The style of golf is dif­fer­ent, but I’ve learned that it re­ally is about pa­tience and just trust­ing your swing over there,” said Hen­der­son.

“As is the case with any ma­jor, you just need to stay fo­cused and be able to bounce back through tough breaks, weather de­lays, and harsh con­di­tions.”

Hen­der­son, who’s ranked 16th in the world, said she’ll keep all the same clubs in her bag like a usual, but said the Women’s Bri­tish Open forces her to use them in dif­fer­ent ways. She may end up us­ing a fair­way wood around a green for a short shot, or will try to fly her irons lower than usual, she ex­plained.

Hen­der­son is one of the sta­tis­ti­cal lead­ers on the LPGA Tour in driv­ing, but her putting has been her weak­ness this year. She said she can’t pin­point one spe­cific thing she’s been work­ing on me­chan­i­cally, but she’s tested a few dif­fer­ent put­ter op­tions and has stuck with one for the last two months.

She said she’s en­joyed com­ing up with a dif­fer­ent kind of strat­egy for this week ver­sus a nor­mal LPGA Tour tour­na­ment.

An­nika Soren­stam, who won the Women’s Bri­tish Open at Royal Lytham in 2003, said it takes time to learn to play links golf. She said Hen­der­son would need a lit­tle luck with the weather, as some­times you can get “all four sea­sons in one day.” But she said Hen­der­son’s cre­ative game plan is a solid one.

Soren­stam said she is a “big fan” of the young Cana­dian.

“She has a great mind and is a true com­peti­tor. She cer­tainly knows how to win tour­na­ments and even ma­jors,” she said. “It seems to me when she is driv­ing the ball well, she gets good mo­men­tum and rest of the game falls into place.”

Hen­der­son is just two wins away from ty­ing the all-time record for wins by a Cana­dian pro­fes­sional — male or fe­male — and is hope­ful one of those wins comes in three weeks at the CP Women’s Open in Regina.

Although her main fo­cus is on this week in Europe, she ad­mit­ted she’s got the Cana­dian event “cir­cled on her cal­en­dar.”

“(The course) looks like it will be set up re­ally well for our na­tional cham­pi­onship and I’m ex­cited to see how the fans out there em­brace the LPGA,” she said. “I can’t wait to get there and try to put on a show for the fans.”

—THEBLADEVIAAP

Cana­dian Brooke Hen­der­son took last week off of the LPGA Tour to pre­pare for this week’s Women’s Bri­tish Open.

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