While world number one ranked golfer Lydia Ko ended up with the win at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, ascending to the top of the LPGA Tour’s winnings list, the real star of the show was teenaged phenom Brooke Henderson. Hailing from the suburbs of Ottawa, Canada, Henderson held the lead going into the final day of the event.
Although it was Ko and Morgan Pressel who would compete in the playoff to determine the tournament winner, Henderson showed that the future of women’s golf is in very good hand. Attempting to become the third woman in the history of the LPGA Tour to win a tournament before turning 18, Henderson actually held the lead for two rounds of play.
Rookie jitters were evident on the final day of play. The opening tee shot went to the right, landing behind the trees and resulting in a bogey. While established veterans Ko and Pressel managed to catch up to the ambitious Henderson, she remained in contention as late as the 18th hole. Missing a 25-foot birdie attempt on the 18th jeopardized any chance of a title win.
As the former top-ranked amateur in the world, Henderson’s gutsy performance at the Swinging Skirts was nothing short of admirable. At one time, she led the event by as much as five shots. Despite the desolation of relinquishing her lead, there is jubilation in the fact that she was able to hold her own against some of the most accomplished female golfers in the world.
Having passed on a scholarship to the University of Florida in order to pursue her dreams of professional golf, Henderson is forced to go from week to week, hoping to qualify for the next LPGA event. Last December, she was denied an opportunity to attend the LPGA’s Qualifying School, due to the fact that she was under 18.
Despite her top-10 finish at the Swinging Skirts, she still needs to qualify for events because she is not an actual LPGA member. Denied a waiver in 2014 because she did not meet the minimum age requirement of 18, a win would have ensured membership. While LPGA commissioner Mike Whan would likely grant a two-year exemption for Henderson if she can win an event this season, there is no question that Henderson is one to watch.
With the pressure of being one of Canada’s finest golfers (male or female), there is an expectation that comes with such status, one that Henderson has grown with. Her talents and resiliency will shine through, making her a sentimental favorite to win a tournament this year. Once she eventually gains membership in the LPGA, fans can expect to hear more from the very promising Henderson in the near future.