Brooke Henderson was unlikely to win this year’s Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year, which doesn’t mean in any way that she didn’t have an outstanding season on the LPGA Tour.
Her victories this year in Grand Rapids and New Zealand gave Henderson five career wins on the LPGA Tour, putting her in second place all-time among Canadians, with only Sandra Post’s eight career victories ahead of her. Henderson’s two wins were among eight top-10 finishes in 2017.
This year’s award, announced on Tuesday, went to Toronto’s Joey Votto, who led Major League Baseball in on-base percentage, walks and intentional walks, while becoming just the third player to have at least 179 hits, 36 homers and 134 walks, with 83 or fewer walks in a single season while playing for the Cincinnati Reds.
The other two are Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, very impressive company for Votto, who just missed winning his second National League MVP award.
So too was Henderson among impressive company for the Lou Marsh Trophy, including cross-country skier Alex Harvey, Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, curler Rachel Homan and moguls skiier Mikael Kingsbury, among others, but that goes with the territory when you reach the elite level among athletes that Henderson has at the tender age of 20
Henderson had a better shot last year when she successfully defended her title in Portland and won her first major championship at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which she very nearly won again this year. Henderson also posted 15 top-10s overall in 2016, but it was an Olympic year and eventual Lou Marsh winner, swimmer Penny Oleksiak, won four medals in Rio, including a gold in the pool.
When you’re keeping the company that Henderson has these past couple of years, there’s only so much you control when it comes to an award such as the Lou Marsh, that being your own performance in your chosen sport, yet other Canadians may be tearing it up at the plate, in the pool or on the ice. The chips just fall where they may as to who actually gets the prize in the case of the Lou Marsh.
The reason you can be optimistic that Henderson may win the Lou Marsh one day, likely sooner than later, is that she doesn’t look too far past what’s immediately ahead of her.
Of course, she craves being a champion, but she realizes that to attain a title or a recognition of any kind, there are numerous prerequisites that need to be addressed, which is her focus. Stick to that formula and awards such as the Lou Marsh will take care of themselves.
That’s the sign of an elite athlete who is up for such an award and she may yet win her second Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s female athlete of the year.
We’ll see what happens with the Lou Marsh next year, but she’s given every indication that there will be plenty of moments to savour along the way between then and now. There will be plenty of variables that will make it tough to win, but it will be sweeter when she does.
Be it Henderson or any other athlete from Canada who wins, would you want it any other way?