While a lot of deserving eyeballs have been on the Canadian men of the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour and their run of successes after the in-season COVID-19 break, the ladies of the LPGA Tour have now made their return and are very much worthy of Canadian golf fan’s attention.
Brooke Henderson, LPGA Tour Professional
What more can you say about Brooke Henderson? The 22-year-old from little Smiths Falls, Ont. (about an hour from Ottawa) has taken on Canadian golf’s record books in a big way since turning professional. Henderson has won nine times already on the LPGA Tour and her victory last June in Michigan had her become the winningest Canadian of all time – on either the PGA or LPGA Tour.
Henderson, a long-time PING athlete, has also won a major championship – the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – and is a constant fixture on LPGA Tour leaderboards every time she tees it up.
All the while she’s also inspired a whole generation of young girls (and boys!) to pick up the game. Her following is robust and celebrated, and the youngsters at a CP Women’s Open are, more often than not, decked out in gear that makes them look like mini-Brookes.
Speaking of the CP Women’s Open, she’s won that too, in 2018. It’s funny, though, as Henderson has already made a ton of history in her young career – history, for her, is just getting started.
Unfortunately the 2020 LPGA Tour season just got started before it stopped again for Henderson. She played only two tournaments (both in Florida, notching a T4 and a T15) before she decided to skip the two tournaments in Australia. Little did she know that her final putt on Sunday in mid-January would be her last one for more than six months. Henderson said in a recent interview this break has been her longest away from golf tournaments since she was in Grade 7.
“It’s been a very long break, especially for me,” Henderson told The Canadian Press in late July. “It’s been a big change for me but I’m very excited to get back out there. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of adrenalin on that first tee.”
Henderson will make her return to action on the LPGA Tour at the AIG Women’s British Open, which begins Aug. 20 at Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland. It will be the first major of the LPGA Tour’s season. Henderson has been one of the busiest golfers on the LPGA Tour since she turned professional – often attributing it to the fact that she’s young and feels healthy – but this year was jarring for her. She spent most of the break working out at her home in Smiths Falls and spending time with her parents. She’s going to take a cautious approach to the LPGA Tour’s schedule for the balance of the year given the COVID-19 restrictions on travelling and entering/exiting Canada. It’s likely Henderson may only play in the major championships and hopefully perform well enough to earn a spot in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
Regardless of how little Henderson plays this year one thing is for sure – she’ll be a threat to lift a trophy every time she’s in the field and is motivated, she said, to get to win No.10. If she does it, she’ll be the first Canadian in history on the LPGA or PGA Tour to get to double-digit wins.
Alena Sharpe, LPGA Tour Professional
Henderson’s Olympic teammate from 2016, Alena Sharp (and, who will likely be Henderson’s teammate again in 2021 when the Olympics are back on the schedule in Tokyo) is raring to go and will play all five of the first tournaments back on the LPGA Tour schedule.
She lives in Arizona and spent most of the break playing golf with the male members of her home club. Most, she said in a recent interview, are low-handicap guys to begin with and hit it just as a far if not further than her. She gave them strokes and it kept her competitive juices flowing.
Nothing, though, compares to the actual opportunity of playing LPGA Tour events.
Sharp finished T20 at the first event back after the long break at the LPGA Drive On Championship. She said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press that, at 39, she’s worried there are going to be dwindling attempts for her to win her first LPGA Tour title. But still, she’s more motivated than ever to continue to compete.
"It sucks that this is happening towards the end of my career because I'm playing well," Sharp said of the COVID-19 break. "I want to just keep riding that momentum for as long as I can until I decide to maybe slow down and retire."
Regardless of what’s to come of both Sharp and Henderson, it’s a spectacular time for Canadian women’s golf and it’s very solid 1-2 punch!
Written and intended to the GlobalGolf.ca audience by Adam Stanley