Brooke Henderson gets another chance to win for Canada this week.
Henderson’s bid to medal in the Olympics in Rio came up just short last week, but she said she likes the momentum she brings to the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in Calgary with the event beginning Thursday. She’s trying to become the first Canadian to win the championship since Jocelyne Bourassa in 1973.
Henderson, 18, has a large following just about everywhere she goes now, but the next two weeks should be off the charts. There’s a giant Henderson poster near the first tee at Priddis Greens Golf & Country Club. Henderson’s following will include a large contingent of junior girls in Ping visors, Henderson’s staple headwear.
“I've been here now for 48 hours, and I didn't know there were that many Ping visors available, because every young girl I see out here is wearing what they're now calling their Brooke visor,” said Mike Whan, the LPGA commissioner. “That tells you the impact she's already having in golf, because I see that in Phoenix, I see that in Seattle, I see that in Chicago. It's great to come back and see them at home. I see these huge Canadian followings for Brooke all over the place, but coming back here, it's been pretty special.”
Henderson, Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko and No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn lead a strong field, with eight of the top 10 in the world competing. Jutanugarn, who withdrew from the Olympics with a knee injury, seems ready to play this week. She told her agent she’s feeling “a lot better” now. She played an 18-hole practice round Tuesday and the pro-am Wednesday. Golf Channel is televising the event from 6-9 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday and 3-6 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday.
Henderson may be the crowd favorite this week, but not the betting favorite. Ko is looking to win the event for the fourth time in the last five years. Henderson was asked if she’s feeling any pressure to become the first Canadian to win the championship in 43 years.
“Not at all,” said Henderson, who tied for seventh in the Olympics. “It's definitely something that I'm hoping to break, that history, either this year, next year or in a couple years. I'm going to give it a good effort this week.”
Henderson likes the welcome she’s getting from her fellow Canadians.
“I'm definitely looking forward to it, feeling their energy and feeling their support,” she said. “I know I'm going to hit a bad shot here and there, but they're going to be behind me the whole way. It's an exciting week for me, just like next week is, too, back in Canada [for the Manulife LPGA Classic in Ontario].”