NAPLES, Florida – At the penultimate event of this year’s LPGA Tour, Dave Henderson returned for the first time since January 2020 to coach his daughter.
Brooke Henderson finished fifth, her seventh top 10 result in an otherwise “bad” year, as she admits, and Dave Henderson – who is part swing guru, security guard, and mental trainer – was happy with what he got after nearly two Years ago saw help from afar due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now Brooke Henderson hopes to carry this momentum into the CME Group Tour Championship, the season finale of the LPGA Tour. And she thinks she can win the tournament this week, which is not always the case.
“In some weeks you think about a top 10 placement because you are working on certain things and when you are on the hunt you try it out. But this week you’re doing it on Thursday with just one thing on your mind, ”Henderson told the star. “It took me a couple of years to get this approach in my head, but hopefully this year it’s the right one.”
The CME Group Tour Championship is the culmination of the year-long Race to CME Globe. Henderson, who has three consecutive top 10 finishes at this event, ranks ninth overall. However, anyone who wins the tournament this week will also win the Race to CME Globe and receive the biggest prize for first place in women’s golf – $ 1.5 million.
Henderson spent a month at home in Canada through October. She said that despite having a mundane 12 months, she feels great about energy as she hopes to cash a big check this week.
“In a way, I’m a little sad that the season is coming to an end because I feel like my game is gaining momentum,” said Henderson.
The 24-year-old said having her father back on the LPGA tour (her mother Darlene is also in Naples) was more of a mental relief than anything else. The couple – along with Henderson’s sister and caddy Brittany – have shared swing videos over FaceTime, but personal endeavors are obviously different.
Dave Henderson told the star that while he was home his main goal was to keep encouraging his daughter to follow her schedule. He noticed “a lot of little things” about lines and angles on greens, but golf is all about numbers and he said he was delighted to see his daughter play in 2021.
Henderson’s putting remains her Achilles heel – she is 114th on the putting average – but her ball stroke is still solid. Henderson takes fourth place on the greens in the regular category and her pronounced consistency is reflected in a point average that is among the top 10 of the tour.
“All of their numbers are as good or better as they have been all along,” said Dave Henderson. “We’d like to do this one-more-putt every round, because that’s four strokes a week. But everywhere? Outstanding.”
To win this week, Henderson must beat a pair of golfers who have played the LPGA Tour all seasons.
Both Jin Young Ko and Nelly Korda have won four times this season (with Korda also winning Olympic gold). For the opening round on Thursday they will be numbered 1 and 2 in the Race to CME Globe classification with Lydia Ko, who is in third place.
The trio all have Canadian connections. World No. 1 winner of last week’s Pelican Women’s Championship, Korda dated Toronto-based Andreas Athanasiou, who plays for the Los Angeles Kings. This week’s defending champion Jin Young Ko won the 2019 CP Women’s Open in a final match with Henderson. And Lydia Ko won the CP Women’s Open in several years and is currently working with Sean Foley of Burlington, Ontario – one of the world’s top golf coaches who has Tiger Woods among his former students.
Despite the stiff competition, Henderson said there is a level of comfort this week that cannot be compared to any other on the tour. Her home is about 20 minutes from Tiburón Golf Club and she is very familiar with the grass and weather conditions of southwest Florida.
That convenience, combined with her recent good game, current headroom and family support, she said, has Canada’s most successful female golfer – on either the PGA or LPGA Tour – hope to raise her trophy total.
“It’s nice to have the whole family back together,” said Henderson. “I feel like my game is in really good shape and I love this course so hopefully a quick start and I can continue it.”
Adam Stanley is an Ottawa-based contributor for Star’s sports division and the host of Next Round’s On Me golf podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @adam_stanley
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