It was more about the standard she’d set for herself the year before than any problem, either real or imagined, when Brooke Henderson didn’t begin the 2017 with as much momentum as she did in her first full season on tour.
In 2016, Henderson bolted from the gate with top-10 finishes in nine of her first 10 events in a season that saw her win a major championship at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, successfully defend at the Cambia Portland Classic and represent Canada at the Rio Olympics.
By comparison, her first top-10, a T4 finish at the HSBC Women’s Champions event, didn’t come until her fourth event of the 2017 season and it took another five events before she finished T9 at the Lorena Ochoa Match Play event in Mexico.
Admittedly, she would have liked a stronger start, but her season began to turn at the Manulife LPGA Classic in Cambridge, Ont., where she tied for 11th, and followed that up with her first win of the season at the Meijer LPGA Classic in Grand Rapids, Mich.
If that wasn’t enough, she came close to successfully defending her first major championship when Henderson finished just one shot behind eventual KPMG Women’s PGA champion Danielle Kang in her next event.
In August, Canadians welcomed her home at Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, which has made Henderson an honourary member, for the CP Women’s Open, where she opened with a three-over 74, before a 69 in the second round allowed her to make the cut. A 63 in the third round had her in contention, but she shot an even par 74 to tie for 12th and win low Canadian honours.
Henderson equaled her win total of the year before in September at the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open, which left her second all-time among wins by a Canadian with five. Sandra Post leads the way with eight.
Henderson finished sixth on the money list, was second in tour birdies on the year and is 13th on the women’s world rankings. She’ll also be considered for the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canadian athlete of the year and the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as this country’s outstanding female athlete of the year.
That would indicate that if there was a problem earlier this year, she came through it unscathed, indeed a positive sign for a 20 year old now going into her third full season on tour.