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Third-place finish confidence booster for Henderson

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DALY CITY, Calif. – Brooke Henderson didn’t take home the Swinging Skirts Classic trophy Sunday, or the LPGA membership she hoped for, but she took home some nice consolation prizes.

The 17-year-old Canadian took home the biggest check ($132,721) of her fledgling pro career by finishing solo third at Lake Merced Golf Club.

She also took home confidence gained contending for an LPGA title.

“I learned a lot from today,” Henderson said. “Just the whole atmosphere of being in the final group on Sunday was amazing. I didn't play my best, but it was fun just to be there and be in contention.”

Henderson took a one-shot lead into the final round, lost it, but then found herself with a 27-foot birdie chance to get into a playoff at the end of regulation. She left disappointed but excited about her game.

“A third-place finish is definitely a confidence booster moving forward,” she said.

Henderson said she was going to fly to Dallas to try to Monday-qualify for this week’s Volunteers of America North Texas Shootout. She 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 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 exemption, her first sponsor’s invite of the year. 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 be 18 years old. Henderson turns 18 on Sept. 10.

“Brooke is a grinder,” said Morgan Pressel, who played alongside Henderson. “She reminds me a lot of me when I was that age.  I knew that she was going to stay tough.”