Henderson's valiant title defence moves the needle in The Big Smoke
Aug 26 2019

AURORA, Ont. - Brooke Henderson waged an intense and proud defence of her CP Women's Open championship this past week at the Magna Golf Club.

What are you going to do when you shoot 66-69-65-69 and get dusted by seven shots except tip your PING visor to champion Jin Young Ko? She showed why she is the world No. 1 while winning for the fourth time this season.

In putting together rounds of 66-67-65-64 for a total of 26-under par, Ko ran her bogey-free streak to 106 holes. She hasn't made a bogey since the second hole of the third round at the British Open.

When she does that, it's like she's got her shoulder to the door and isn't going to let it open a crack.

"She's world No. 1 for a reason," Henderson said. "She's had an unreal season. Four wins on one of the toughest tours there is. There is so much talent out here. To get one win is hard. To get four is really cool."

Henderson started the day two shots back of Ko and Nicole Broch Larsen and never got closer. She missed from about seven feet on the first hole, which might have changed things a little bit.

Henderson fell back to three behind through eight when she couldn't make anything. The door opened a crack on the par-5 ninth hole when Ko had to take an unplayable in the bush to the right of the fairway.

She played her fourth to within five feet and saved par.

"I think that saved her whole day, to be honest," Henderson said. "To be able to get up and down from there to make par, that was huge. I think at that point you kind of knew things were going her way and then she made birdies back-to-back, 10 and 11. She was kind of off to the races then.

"But you need to be able to get up and down. You need to make clutch shots like that if you are going to win a championship."

"It was huge par, I think," Ko said.

Yes, it was.

Ko added the CP Women's Open to her schedule at the last minute.

"Well, I like Canada and then I like Ice Capp, cappucino. Yeah, that's why I want to play this week," she said.

Will she have a party to celebrate her win when she returns to Korea after the tournament in Portland next week?

"Yes," she said, "drinking."

Given all that, and the fact she is one of Henderson's best friends on tour, Ko should be made an honourary Canadian. They walked arm in arm up the 18th fairway to the cheers of the massive crowd. The tournament was the second-most attended CP Women's Open with an approximate attendance of 45,000 (Ottawa holds the record with 53,000 in 2017).

The CP Women's Open hadn't been held in the GTA since 2001 and it was going to be interesting to see how it would be received in Canada's biggest city.

Henderson is Canada's Tiger Woods. She moved the needle even in The Big Smoke. The tournament had record walk-up and corporate hospitality sales.

The big reason was Henderson being in contention come Sunday, a pretty remarkable feat given this is her "home" tournament and all the demands on her time this week.

With each Women's Open, she's getting more comfortable with the environment.

"It was a really fun week. I feel like I handled myself really well," she said. "There were a lot of extra things I had to do, but overall it was really fun. Just to be able to play well in front of all these people and hopefully make their weekend a little bit better, that's all I really want."

Next year's CP Women's Open is at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver. It's a big, tree-lined course and Henderson has thrived on that type of layout. She's twice won in Portland (next week's stop) and won the 2016 KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club near Seattle.

"I'm really excited to play Shaughnessy. I've never played it, only heard amazing things," Henderson said. "I think it'll be fun to get back out on the west coast. I tend to play pretty well out there, so that's exciting.

"To finish T12 in Ottawa, the win and T3 this year, I feel like I'm trending in the right direction and hopefully I can get another top finish."

It feels like Canadian golf fans can look forward to more days like Sunday.

Henderson, a great frontrunner, is front running in defence of CP Women's Open title


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