Aug 19 2019

One of the biggest few days in Canadian golf unfolds this week at Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ont., when Brooke Henderson defends her CP Women's Open championship.

A Canadian defending our national title on the PGA or LPGA Tours. That's not something that has been said since 1973.

Henderson's win at the Wascana Country Club in Saskatchewan a year ago made her the first Canadian to hold our national open title since Jocelyne Bourassa won what was then La Canadienne 45 years earlier.

(Speaking of Wascana, they did a marvellous thing on the weekend: they unveiled a plaque in the 18th fairway to commemorate Henderson's victory:

Henderson overcame the most pressure she faces on the LPGA Tour for that win. This is the tournament she has wanted to win the most.

So, what are the chances she can do the double?

First off, I think Golf Canada should be doing everything it can to give Henderson a "home field" advantage. That means a course where the emphasis is on driving the ball because Henderson is one of the best in the game with a driver in her hand.

She's ninth on the Tour in driving distance (274.9 yards). While she's 60th in driving accuracy (71.95 percent), she hits it so far down the fairway she can still get on greens from the rough. That translates in her being ninth on Tour in greens hit in regulation (75.25 percent).

In Magna, Golf Canada chose a course where there are options off the tee. Designed by Doug Carrick, there are a lot of angles to the course off the tees. Decisions have to be made about how much to carve off dog legs, to carry cross bunkers and other bunker complexes.

An aggressive line can reward the player with a much shorter club into the green.

Golf Canada can't do much about the setup for the week - that's in the hands of the LPGA staff - but it would help if the course plays long. The fact is, it's never going to be long enough.

When it was pointed out during a visit in early July it looked like Magna would reward some aggressive play off the tee, Henderson replied, "perfect."

She said a key is "being really comfortable with the lines you pick off the tee because you can do a bunch of different options. I think I will take the more aggressive of those options and try and give myself good opportunities to make birdies.

"I think where a lot of the shots will be made up is in the approach shots into these greens. The greens are very large for the most part. There are some tiny ones, but very large and very rolly. I think it's important to hit it into the right quadrant on the greens and try and make it easier on yourself."

Of course, hitting those right spots on the greens is easier with a shorter club in your hand.

That will be a key this week to Henderson's title defence.

--> The breakthrough season for Canadian Corey Conners is going to last one week longer.

The 27-year-old from Listowel, Ont., finished tied for seventh in the second event of the FedEx Cup playoffs on the weekend and is the only Canadian to earn a place in the top 30 players on the PGA Tour at the Tour Championship in Atlanta this week.

What a season. From Monday qualifier to winner on the PGA Tour to a spot in the Tour Championship which earns him entry into the 2020 Masters (he was already in based on his win), the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and WGC events.

With the new format for the Tour Championship this year, the points have all been erased and replaced with the points leader (Justin Thomas) starting at 10-under-par. Second place in the points (Patrick Cantlay) starts at 8-under par and so on, down to No. 30 who starts at even par.

Conners is ranked 23rd going into the Tour Championship and will start at 1-under-par.

The thing to watch for now is Conners positioning himself for a spot on the International team at the Presidents Cup in Australia in December. Conners moved from 17th to 13th in the standings with his performance at the BMW Championship. The top eight were confirmed after the BMW on the weekend.

Conners is right there and a good performance this week will enhance his chances of being selected by International captain Ernie Els.

Four captains picks will be made the week of Nov. 4.

Henderson gets a break; Koepka vs. Chamblee 2 and NHL ref in U.S. Amateur


Hendersons tuned up for Canadian title defence



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