As Adam Hadwin was in New York with other Web .com Tour graduates to ring the closing bell at Nasdaq on Monday, the town of Smiths Falls, Ont., was displaying hometown pride for its high-profile sister act, unveiling a sign with Brooke and Brittany Henderson in attendance.
For a glimpse at those two events, click here.
While it was Hadwin at Nasdaq, the stock for all three Canadian players is on the rise. He moves on to the PGA Tour after a red-hot finish to the Web .com Tour season that saw him win the combined regular season/Web .com Tour Finals money list.
Brittany Henderson, 23, is coming off a solid collegiate career at Coastal Carolina with a boatload of honours you can read about here. Earlier this year, she won for the first time as a professional on SunCoast Tour in Florida and she’s through the first stage of LPGA Q-school.
It’s little wonder than that Brittany’s kid sister Brooke refers to her as a role model, high praise from the No 1 female amateur in the world who earned that title the same day she turned 17 earlier this month after a productive season of honours and wins at both professional and amateur events.
Those accomplishments and her ascension to the No. 1 ranking in the world that has had her admirers asking the predictable question about turning pro, but what’s the rush?
True, there probably are opportunities waiting for her once she turns pro, but they will still be waiting for her once she finishes high school. The expectations are driven by the fact that other young players are flourishing on the LPGA Tour, where Canada hasn’t had a win since 2001.
One of those players is 16-year-old, two-time Canadian Women’s Open champ Lydia Ko, who got asked incessantly about turning pro before she finally pulled the trigger a year ago. Ko told me earlier this year that she expected it will dog Henderson, too.
“Obviously, she’s going to be asked that question, but the way she’s playing, I guess that’s what comes with it,” said Ko.
“Every single professional event I went to, that question was always asked. The majority of the time my answer was the same – it’s not time yet. In October, I got it done and it was kind of cool not to have that question asked again,” she added.
Ko went on to say she’s settled in quite nicely to being a teenager on tour, but for others, the road to the tour is more bumpy and can rattle nerves and confidence despite previous accomplishments.
Hadwin is a good example.
After almost winning the RBC Canadian Open in 2011, picking up another top 10 on the PGA Tour later that year and coming oh-so-close to graduating from the Web .com Tour two years ago, frustration boiled over in 2013.
You can read more about it here.
Hadwin had expectations and so did many who watched him in that memorable Canadian Open at Vancouver’s Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club.
“To come so close in 2012 to getting a PGA Tour card was a bit frustrating and knowing the season that I had before, knowing that I can compete out on the PGA Tour, sort of increased that frustration,” he said earlier this year.
“I grew increasingly frustrated as the year when on when I wasn’t playing good golf. I was easily agitated if things weren’t going my way,” said Hadwin.
“I entered this year with a much better mindset to really approach each individual tournament on its own and every hole on its own, just sort of play a much more relaxed game of golf and just give myself lots of opportunities and just sort of go with the flow and see what happens,” he said.
Hadwin, 26, had every right to think the ball was rolling his way, but rough patches are inevitable for even seasoned pros. Add to that a new environment, new golf courses, hotels and people and the necessary adjustments can be overwhelming.
Hadwin dealt with it admirably to get where he is today. Many take much longer than he did, some don’t make it at all and others have a smoother transition. There are no guarantees until you get there and that really has nothing to do with talent.
That should be the message considered by those so premature in their expectations of Brooke Henderson, who will be in action again this weekend at Angus Glen in Markham, Ont., where she will represent Canada at the World Junior Girls’ Golf Championship.
She’s well-spoken and mature at such a tender age to go with all that talent, but what can you legitimately expect of a 17-year-old who could face what Hadwin experienced?
There were people on social media who wanted an underage exemption for Henderson into this year’s Q-school, but now she and her family has the winter to decide where here career is heading.
Brittany could be a valuable resource in making such a decision, given her own college background, the competition she faced and whether her younger sister would benefit from mixing studies and golf at university or skipping that and giving the LPGA Tour a shot.
By the time Brooke gets out of school, she’s be just a couple of months away from her 18th birthday and that means she can attend Q-school in the fall, so waiting at least until next spring to make the final call seems the reasonable way to go.
Should she decide to go pro, she would have enough events to piece together a schedule until Q-school, or she could spend another summer as an amateur. From the outside looking in, the rewards seem too great for her to go to college, but that’s a call for Brooke and her family.
Whatever does happen, let’s not go into it with the illusion that all will be sunshine ahead. Rough patches along the road usually result in people gearing down to minimize the damage. Expectations of a 17-year-old who has accomplished so much at such a young age need to be geared down too.
As Hadwin showed, those expectations and past accomplishments tend to magnify the situation if things don’t go as planned.