Henderson, dad think 17-year-old is ready for LPGA membership

By Randall MellJune 12, 2015, 1:57 am

HARRISON, N.Y. – Brooke Henderson is back on another leaderboard.

If not for a closing bogey Thursday at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Henderson would be tied for the first-round lead in the second major championship of the year. Instead, the 17-year-old Canadian’s 6-under-par 67 left her a shot behind Jenny Shin.

Dave Henderson, Brooke’s father, toted his daughter’s bag as caddie. He saw her do a lot more than dissect yet another difficult course with the savvy of a seasoned veteran. He saw more evidence she has already proven herself worthy of LPGA membership.

After the round, Papa Henderson didn’t hold back expressing his belief LPGA commissioner Mike Whan ought to find a way to grant Brooke tour membership based on what she’s already accomplished this year.

“What more do you want?” Henderson said he wishes media would tell Whan. “She is good for golf, she is good for revenues, she brings young people into the game.”

Dave believes Brooke is more than ready to play the tour as a member.

“We’ve got good financial backing,” he said. “We have a good management group in IMG. We have a good support system. Everything’s in place.”

If you haven’t followed Brooke Henderson’s story, here’s the deal:

The LPGA has a rule that requires tour members be at least 18 years old, but the rule can be waived by the commissioner. Henderson turns 18 on Sept. 10. The Henderson family petitioned for a waiver of the rule last year that would have allowed Henderson to go LPGA Q-School, but the petition was denied.


KPMG Women’s PGA: Articles, videos and photos


Henderson turned pro anyway in December, and now she’s trying to avoid Q-School by earning LPGA membership playing as a non-member. She is playing this week on a sponsor exemption. She is playing her seventh LPGA event this season, five of them on sponsor exemptions and two via Monday qualifying. She’s playing well. She tied for third at the Swinging Skirts Classic, missing out on a playoff by a shot. She led after the second and third rounds. She also grabbed the second-round lead at the North Texas Shootout and tied for 13th there.

There are two ways Henderson can earn tour membership without going to Q-School.

1. She can win an LPGA event.

Non-members who win an LPGA event can claim tour membership immediately, with that membership extending through the following season. Henderson, however, would have to gain a waiver of the tour’s rule requiring members be 18 years old before she could claim that membership. Whan has consistently said winning is required for him to consider granting a waiver.

2. Henderson can also gain membership through non-member equivalent earnings.

If Henderson ends this season with the equivalent of top 40 money winnings, she could claim membership for 2016. However, only money earned in events with a cut count toward non-member winnings.

Henderson has won $184,745 in her six starts this year. If she were a tour member, that would rank her 33rd on the LPGA money list. A year ago, Hee Young Park finished 40th on the money list with $447,658 in earnings. Henderson will likely have to make at least that much to have a chance to gain membership based on top-40 equivalent earnings.

The thing is, Henderson may get only 10 starts this year, meaning she may have only three starts left.

Tour rules limit Henderson to six sponsor exemptions. She has one left, and she is scheduled to use that at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August. She is eligible to play the U.S. Women’s Open next month based on her top-10 finish in last year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst. It also appears she will get to play the Ricoh Women’s British Open in July on a special invitation that doesn’t count against her six sponsor exemptions.

As of now, Henderson can’t get into any other LPGA events except through Monday qualifiers. That means if she doesn’t win the Women’s PGA this week, she will have to make $260,000 in these remaining starts to have a chance at top-40 equivalency membership.

Brooke has consistently said she will accept whatever the tour requires her to do, but she said Thursday she believes she is ready for tour membership. She feels like she’s practically a member now. She is playing her sixth consecutive LPGA event.

“I love it, and I'm really excited when it's my career and I have full status on the LPGA tour and I get to travel week to week with these girls,” Henderson said. “They have been very encouraging and very supportive of the way I've played over the last few weeks, and I've made a lot of friends, which is always nice. I think hopefully I'll have a long career out here, and it just depends on when I'm able to start that career.”

The sooner the better for Papa Henderson.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''