Plenty of ambition for Brooke Henderson as LPGA season comes into full swing

In her first full season on the LPGA, Brooke Henderson’s career has grown by a quantum leap. Fulfilling her promise as a world-class golfer, she has risen over 200 spots in the world golf rankings, sitting fifth overall. Henderson sits in distinguished company among the top five, which includes American competitors Lexi Thompson and Stacy Lewis, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and South Korea’s Inbee Park.As a side note, she is ninth on the list of earnings, having won more than $450,000 USD in prize money.

Having competed in 11 events this season, Henderson has managed an incredible Top 10 finishes on eight occasions, while her scoring average (70.02) ranks fifth overall. With ambitions to participate in 30 events before season’s end, there is no disputing her high energy.

Taking into account that her 19th birthday is still four months away, she has handled the expectations and accompanying pressures with the grace and dignity of a veteran golfer. Another noteworthy aspect to Henderson’s maturity is the fact that she has found a mentor in fellow Canadian Alena Sharp. Also a competitor on the LPGA Tour, Sharp (who is nearly twice Henderson’s age) has been like a big sister to Henderson, graciously providing her with insights about life on the tour.

During the summer of 2015, Henderson became the third-youngest winner to win an LPGA tournament, capturing the Cambia Portland Classic. Winning by an impressive eight shots, the bigger victory may have been the honor of full Tour membership afterwards. In the aftermath of such jubilation, Henderson also found time to sign an endorsement deal with BMW, another sign that her star is on the rise.

Photo credit: Frank Gunn

Photo credit: Frank Gunn

With her sister Brittany, who is a competitor on the Symetra Tour (where Brooke partly played last season), the two recently returned to their hometown of Smiths Falls, Ontario. Both were on-hand for the Kevin Haime Kids to the Course Classic at Eagle Creek Golf Club, which was held after Mother’s Day.

In early February, Henderson experienced her best finish of the season, placing second at the Coates Golf Championship. She will be hoping for a similar finish in August at the Rio Summer Games, as golf tournament shall be contested for the first time at the Games since 1904.

Of note, the Rio Summer Games shall be wedged into quite a full golf schedule. Two weeks before Rio, one of golf’s majors shall be contested from July 28-31 as Henderson shall look for victory at the British Open. Should Henderson manage a podium finish in Rio, she will definitely be treated to a heroes welcome, as a pair of tournaments are scheduled to be held in Canada. Calgary shall be the host city for the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, while Cambridge, Ontario is the backdrop for the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.

Brooke Henderson grabs first career Symetra Tour win

In capturing the Four Winds Invitational at Blackthorn, becoming the third-youngest winner in the history of the Symetra Tour in the process, the golf calendar of 2015 continues to be Brooke Henderson’s coming-out party. The final round saw Henderson record a 3-under 69, accumulating an overall score of 10-under 206. As a side note, her sister Brittany also competed in the event.

After the first two rounds resulted in the native of Smiths Falls shooting 72 and 65, she had a strong showing during the back nine. Starting with the 11th hole, she made three straight birdies, strengthening her confidence as she looked to emerge victorious. Converting four consecutive pars afterwards, she held the lead for good. Trailing behind Henderson was Dottie Ardina of the Philippines. Achieving a birdie in the final hole, she finished with a 74 on the final day.

Complementing the career milestone for Henderson was the fact that LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan approved Henderson’s waiver petition, meaning that she is allowed the rare honor of Symetra Tour membership despite not turning 18 years of age until September 10. Accumulating $22,500 (U.S.) prize money for the win, it adds to a year of overall earnings that has seen Henderson earn over $300,000.

Rising star Brooke Henderson contributes to memorable week of golf in her hometown

Following a top five performance at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship‎, Brooke Henderson continued her whirlwind year with a stop in her hometown of Smiths Falls, Ontario. Showing her compassionate side as a sporting humanitarian, she held a Pro-Am tournament with her sister Brittany (a pro on the Symmetra Tour) at their home course.

In addition to raising funds in the region of close to $15,000, Lanark County Support Services was one of the the beneficiaries (where their mother Darlene worked), partial proceeds from the tourney were also provided for Doefstrong. Named in honor of 18-year-old Neil Doef, the aspiring hockey player endured a severe spinal cord injury during a game. Having also attended the same high school as Henderson, Doef followed Henderson in a cart for most of the event.

The event held an additional component for Henderson as she received another significant award. Presented to her at the course was her high school diploma. As she continues to stake her claim as one of the world’s finest young female golfers, she missed her graduation day. Friends and teachers greeted her on the golfing greens to celebrate a treasured milestone in anyone’s young life.

Adding to the jubilation of such a memorable day is the fact that the Canadian Tour is holding a women’s golf event in Smiths Falls during the same week. Testament to the star power of Henderson, a handful of LPGA pros are also making the trek to Henderson’s hometown to compete for $60,000 in prize money.
The pros return to the course Tuesday and Wednesday to vie for $60,000 in prize money. Not yet old enough to enjoy a drink at the clubhouse, but has already proven she can play golf with the best in the world. As a side note, 103 local sponsors signed up to show their support for the Canadian Tour event.

Hoping to earn her LPGA Tour Card in 2016, Henderson also has ambitions to compete for Canada in golf at the 2016 Rio Summer Games. Considering that hse has already earned more than $317,000, she would rank 20th overall on this year’s LPGA money list if she had membership. As long as her earnings are good enough to be considered in the top 40 of the LPGA’s money list, she will automatically earn her card for next season, avoiding Q-school. The tie for fifth at the KPMG Women’s LPGA Championship, which is also one of the majors on the LPGA resulted in Henderson finishing in the top-15 for the fifth time in seven appearances at LPGA events.

In the aftermath of the Canadian Women’s Tour event at the Smiths Falls Golf and Country Club, Brooke and Brittany Henderson both enjoyed a very admirable second and third place finish. The victor would prove to be Rebecca Lee-Bentham, of Richmond Hill, whose two-day total paced a field consisting of 90 competitors.

Having also played with the LPGA Tour, the final round for the product of the Golf Canada’s Young Pros program was a 69, bringing her two-day total score at 140, finishing two under par. Rain had caused delays on the first day of the event, forcing the grounds keeping crew to go the extra mile to ensure the course met tour standards.

Brooke would shoot a 70 on the second day, accumulating a total score of 143, while Brittany, also a member of the Symetra tour, tied for third place with a score of 146. The next Canadian appearance for Brooke Henderson shall take place at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in Coquitlam, B.C., starting on August 17.

The true victory for the Henderson sisters was the opportunity to meet the fans, sign autographs and recognize the hard work of the tournament organizers. With the success of the inaugural charity pro-am, the level of support and awareness would only increase should another one be held in 2016. Three memorable days in Smiths Falls was a heartfelt moment to give back and thank those who have supported her along the way.

Admirable performance for Brooke Henderson at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic

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.

Gillman grabs US Amateur Open in final featuring two future superstars

In only her first appearance at the US Amateur Open in Glen Cove, New York, Kirsten Gillman grabbed the title in a one-stroke triumph over Canadian Brooke Henderson. Taking into account that Gillman grabbed the Junior PGA Women’s event in Bryan, Texas a week prior, it is a remarkable winning streak for the young golfer.

Heading into the final (which was match-play), Gillman and Henderson are a glimpse as to what the exciting future of women’s golf offers. Henderson’s amateur world ranking was an impressive number two, while Gillman was 57th.

While Gillman has committed to an NCAA scholarship with the University of Alabama (she donned Alabama colors during the final) and Henderson with the University of Florida, NCAA golf fans were salivating at what the next four years should offer.

Prior to this year’s final, Henderson’s best finish was the Round of 32. With her 1-up win yesterday, it marked her first appearance in the finals. In addition, her sister, Brittany is her caddy at the event. Of note, she bested Arizona’s Hannah O’Sullivan to advance to the final. Gillman had defeated Andrea Lee of California in her match-play semifinal. Winning five of the last six holes, the 15th hole clinched the victory for Gillman.

Heading into the final, she tried to be the first Canadian since Cathy Sherk in 1978 to grab the title, which would have made her only the third Canadian to win overall. The only other Canadian to win the event was Marlene Stewart Streit in 1956. Of note, it was the first time that Henderson played in a 36-hole final.

Televised on the NBC Golf Channel, the 36-hole final at the Nassau Country Club was a see-saw battle over 6,297 yards. With four holes remaining, Henderson enjoyed a one-stroke lead. Of note, Gillman had been chipping away at Henderson’s lead. At the 25 and 26 holes of play, Gillman was three down. A birdie on the 27th started to turn the momentum for Gillman, as she managed to enter the final hole with the two-stroke advantage.

While Henderson valiantly tried to force extra play, her putt on the green was not able to buy her more time. Gillman has established herself as a superstar in the short game, an area that Henderson admitted is one of the weaknesses in her game.

Both born in 1997, this is likely the first of many more matches between the two budding superstars. As the PGA Tour looks for a new generation of stars, the LPGA Tour shall be in good hands with the rivalry that likely began today between Henderson and Gillman.

10 Female Athletes that made an inspiring impact in 2013

In alphabetical order, please find ten female athletes that helped to make a tremendous impact in 2013, while advancing the already amazing world of female sport.

Angella Goran, Cycling

Cycling across Canada in hopes of raising funds for wildlife research, she channeled the spirit of other Canadians who have ventured on the road in similar efforts; Terry Fox, Rick Hansen and Ashley Gilbank. Looking to preserve Canada’s natural legacy while looking to educate and provide various education activities on her stops, Goran is a role model to both men and women who have undertaken environmental causes.

Emma Green-Tregaro, Track and Field

While the 2013 IAAF World Track and Field Championships were a lightning rod for controversy due to issues of gay rights, Emma Green-Tregaro made a remarkable statement. Painting her fingernails in the colors of the rainbow as a gesture of support, it made worldwide news. While she was inititally warned it could be in violation of the code of conduct of the world championships, she stood her ground, inspiring men and women of any sexual preference to stand up for their beliefs.

Brittany Griner, Basketball

From the NCAA to NBA Draft speculation to the WNBA, Brittany Griner made national news on numerous stages. While her NCAA career at Baylor did not end on with a Final Four, she graduated as the all-time leading blocker among both male and female basketball players.

Speculation about the NBA Draft sparked rumors that she would become the first female selected. Although it never materialized, she would go first overall to the Phoenix Mercury in the 2013 WNBA Draft. Her debut against the Chicago Sky (which featured second pick overall Elena Delle Donne) featured two slam dunks, the first player to do so in their WNBA debut.

Sami Grisafe, Football

One of the most inspiring sporting stories of 2013 (among men and women), football quarterback Sami Grisafe finished her storied football career in grand style. Having led the United States to a gold medal at the inaugural 2010 IFAF Women’s World Football Championships, she followed it up as the field general for the US in 2013.

Her world gold would be followed up by a remarkable performance with the Chicago Force in the 2013 WFA postseason. Leading her club to their first-ever WFA National Championship, it was a fitting finish to Grisafe’s stellar career. Tackling the next role in her life, a promising musical career, her performance of the Star-Spangled Banner at the IFAF Worlds and at Wrigley Field are pulse-pounding.

Brooke Henderson, Golf

Only 16 years old, Brooke Henderson may become the Tiger Woods of women’s golf. A teen phenom who was recognized as Canada’s amateur golfer of the year for 2013, she was also featured in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd segment. Ranked number nine in the world among amateur female golfers, she would place third at the professional Canadian Women’s Open while placing 35 at the LPGA’s Manulife Classic.

Nikki Johnson, Football

One of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of women’s indoor football, Nikki Johnson used her star power to try and improve working conditions in her league. A former intern with NFL Films and a high school sporting legend in Nevada, her solid work ethic and leadership skills set a positive example for teammate and rival alike.

While her requests for health insurance and a more equitable setting in the league resulted in her untimely dismissal, her efforts are similar to Curt Flood in baseball and Ted Lindsay in hockey. Although she will likely return to the WFA (where she first honed her skills), Johnson is a strong, courageous woman whose principles make her a symbol of admiration and determination.

Hilary Knight, Ice Hockey

While Amanda Kessel had an outstanding 2013, in which she won the Patty Kazmaier Award and led the Minnesota Golden Gophers to an undefeated season, Hilary Knight was playing in the ultra-competitive CWHL against some of Canada’s greatest women’s ice hockey players.

With such sterling competition, Knight not only ranked third in league scoring (first among US-born women), but she would become the first American-born player to capture the CWHL’s MVP Award. She would follow it up by leading all players in postseason scoring as the Blades upset the Montreal Stars to capture the Clarkson Cup. A few weeks later, Knight (and Kessel) would beat Canada on their own home ice to capture gold at the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships. Featured on a trading card in the Topps Sochi Winter Games trading card set, her star is on the rise.

Yekaterina Pashkevich, Ice Hockey

A former women’s tackle football competitor in the IWFL, Yekaterina Pashkevich emerged as the feel-good story of the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships. An original member of the Russian national team from 1993, she lived in Boston for several years after the 2006 Torino Winter Games. Making a comeback in hockey, Pashkevitch would capture the hearts and minds of fans 20 years later. As the oldest competitor at the 2013 IIHF Worlds, her acumen and leadership contributed to an emotional bronze medal for the Russian squad.

Winter Venecki, Running

In honor of her fallen father, Winter Venecki and her mother participated in marathons on every continent in the world. Looking to raise funds for cancer research, Venecki’s journey was one of inspiration and hope. Having established her own cause to raise funds, the teenaged Venecki is a great example of the great contributions youth can make to our society.

Serena Williams, Tennis

In a season that saw Williams amass an outstanding win-loss record of 78-4, she solidified her legacy as the greatest female tennis player ever. Her earnings of over $12,000,000 are the highest-ever in women’s tennis history and the fifth highest among both male and female players.

Honorable Mention: Christmas Abbott, NASCAR

As the first female full-time member of a NASCAR racing crew, Christmas Abbott is shattering barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields. Serving with the Michael Waltrip Racing Team, she is a proud member of Clint Bowyer’s pit crew. Able to change two tires weighting 60 pounds each, she paid her dues changing tires for female racer Jennifer Jo Cobb in years past. When not part of the pit crew, Abbott is also a competitor with Team CrossFitInvoke in the CrossFit Mid-Atlantic region.

Honorable Mention: Julie Paetsch, Football and Ice Hockey

One of the most influential women in Canadian sport for 2013, Julie Paetsch helped make history on two different occasions. Competing on defense with the Saskatoon Valkyries of the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, she returned from an injury in-time for the WWCFL title game. Helping the Valkyries to a victory over the Lethbridge Steel, the Valkyries became the first team to win three consecutive WWCFL titles. Of note, she would earn Defensive Player of the Game honors.

A few weeks later, she would contribute to Canada’s silver medal effort at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds. Recognized as Canada’s Player of the Game in the gold medal match against the United States, it would prove to be the beginning of a memorable summer. In late August, she would be selected by the Calgary Inferno in the 2013 Canadian Women’s Hockey League Draft, becoming the first women’s tackle football player taken in CWHL Draft history. In addition, she would score a goal in her debut for the Inferno.

Honorable Mention: Whitney Zelee, Football

Having helped the Boston Militia to a national championship in 2011, Whitney Zelee has emerged as a key member for the WFA franchise. While she has been working tirelessly to help the squad claim a second, her mark on WFA and women’s football history reached unforeseen heights in 2013. As the first player to log 2,000 yards in one season of women’s football, Zelee became a legend in the sport. With several performances of 300+ yards in several matches, her efforts shed a new light on the excitement of women’s football and the growing relevance of the sport.