SAMMAMISH, Wash. - A good place to start when it comes to the moments I take away from what was the enthralling drama at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship where Brooke Henderson became one of three Canadians to win one of golf's majors, is near the end.
I went into the Media Centre at Sahalee Country Club adjacent to the 18th fairway after Henderson finished her 72 holes at 6-under par to bang out some copy to have ready once we knew the outcome. World No. 1 Lydia Ko was on the 17th hole, missing about a five-foot birdie putt, while Henderson scrambled for a par from 13 feet on 18.
Ko parred 18 herself and there would be a sudden death playoff starting on the 18th tee.
To get the players to the tee, there were two carts parked on the fairway side of the 18th green. I came out of the Media Centre, about halfway down the hole, when the players came out to make the ride to the the 18th tee. The roar from the green started to rumble and grew.
They were loaded up with Henderson and sister/caddie Brittany Henderson in one cart and Ko and her caddie in the other.
They started off down the hill towards the 18th tee. At this point, the hole was lined with spectators amid the massive trees and the hole was deep in shadow. As the carts started back down the fairway, a wave of sound ensued. As the carts approached fans, they began to cheer the two teenagers heading off to decide a major championship in sudden death.
It was quite a scene, like a kinder, gentler version of The Hunger Games.
A funny moment came on Thursday when Henderson's 7-iron on the par-3 13th hole found the hole for an ace, her fourth overall and the first of her professional career (that 7-iron had a good week, huh? The ace and that approach in the playoff. It was part of a set of brand new irons put in her bag on Tuesday).
There's a walking scorer with each group who has what looks like a calculator. The scorer uses the eraser on a golf pencil to punch in information: strokes, where the ball wound up, etc., to be used for the players' stats.
When the man tried to punch in a "1" for Henderson's ace, the machine wouldn't accept it.
He tried two or three times. He finally had to radio into Scoring Central to have them update it.
My two favourite overheards during the week: In the the third round on Saturday after Mirim Lee, Gerina Piller and Henderson all knocked good, long drives into the fairway I heard a gentleman say "I WANT to hit like a girl."
The second came on Sunday right after Henderson had birdied the 17th hole to tie Ko for the lead, The players had a circuitous walk around the water hazard to get to the 18th tee a ways up the fairway (it usually plays as a par-5 for the members, but they made it a par-4 for the KPMG). Henderson's birdie had the crowd energized, whooping, yelling, cheering.
As the sound died down, a guy's loud voice could be heard saying, "Who needs college?"
Henderson turned down a scholarship to turn pro at age 17.
Finally, there was Henderson's decision to put a new putter in her bag on Tuesday. She didn't plan on doing it, but liked the look of PING's Oslo putter from their Vault Series.
It's a big mallet, the style she prefers. She was No. 1 for the week in putts per greens in regulation at 1.72. Of course it helped she had a hole-in-one and sank a 100-foot eagle from off the green on the par-5 11th hole on Sunday.
The best part? PING puts a gold replica putter in their vault when a player wins with one of their flatsticks. They also give one to the player, so good choice going with the big mallet, Brooke.
Her driver, by the way, wasn't bad, either. She was able to work it both ways and her drive on 18 in the playoffs was nails, setting up the perfect angle to go flag hunting on her second shot.
She average 255 yards off the tee at the tight and demanding Sahalee, second in the field behind Lexi Thompson, who averaged 265.