Updated: 3:39 p.m. ET
Brooke Henderson overcame nerve-racking flight delays, sleep deprivation and a sudden-death playoff to get through a Monday qualifier and earn a spot in the Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout this week.
“It was a little bit crazy,” Henderson told LPGA media on Tuesday.
The 17-year-old’s attempt to play her way into the LPGA event in Irving, Texas, became a race against the clock after she tied for third at the Swinging Skirts Classic Sunday evening at Lake Merced Golf Club just outside San Francisco. If Henderson were an LPGA member, her top-10 finish would have exempted her into the North Texas Shootout. Without membership, or a sponsor’s exemption, her only way in was through the Monday qualifier.
After missing out on getting in a playoff at the Swinging Skirts Classic by a shot on Sunday, Henderson scrambled to San Francisco International Airport to board a flight for Dallas. Though she said she arrived at the airport about 8 p.m. PT, she found herself grounded there, with flight delays preventing her departure until 4 a.m. She didn’t land in Dallas until 9 a.m. for her 2 p.m. tee time at Las Colinas Country Club.
“We spent most of the night in the airport,” Henderson said.
Henderson said she slept a little at the airport and a little on the plane.
“Not a whole lot,” Henderson said.
Groggy but determined, Henderson wasn’t happy with her scoring in a sluggish start to the Monday qualifier. She was 1 under for her round through 13 holes Monday when rain suspended play.
“I was hitting the ball really, really well and giving myself a lot of opportunities, I just didn't make that many (putts) ... I wasn’t super happy,” Henderson said.
Henderson grabbed the last qualifying spot in a field of 46 players sinking a 10-foot birdie putt at the second sudden-death playoff hole on Tuesday morning. She got into the playoff shooting 1-under-par 70, beating out Erica Popson, Nicole Jeray and Portland Rosen in the playoff. Heather Bowie Young won the qualifier with a 68.
It was an eventful 48 hours or so for Henderson, who turned pro last December after finishing runner-up at the U.S. Women’s Amateur and tying for 10th as low amateur at the U.S. Women’s Open. She is trying to win LPGA membership without going to Q-School in the fall.
Henderson, who is from Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada, can play six LPGA events on sponsor exemptions this year, plus the U.S. Women’s Open and Ricoh Women’s British Open. She played the Swinging Skirts on a sponsor’s exemption, her first sponsor’s invite. She also has exemptions lined up for the Shoprite Classic and the Manulife LPGA Classic in Canada and seems a good bet to fill her allowance of invites now.
If Henderson wins an LPGA event as a non-member, she can claim membership for the rest of this year and through next year. However, before doing so, she would have to gain a waiver of the LPGA’s rule requiring members to be 18 years old. Though there is some confusion over her birthdate on Internet sites, the LPGA and her management team confirms she turns 18 on Sept. 10.