Henderson feeling confident ahead of season opener
As Brooke Henderson gets set to start a new season on the LPGA Tour, she’s doing so with a lot of changes to her game. Some appear very positive and others not so much.
On the plus side is a bag full of new equipment, which has her more than a little enthused. On the negative side is a nagging thumb injury that is being treated with physiotherapy.
The Smiths Falls, Ont., product talked about both while in Orlando, Fla., where she’s set to defend her title at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions.
Her win last year kicked off what she thought would be a stellar year. However, she managed only two more top-10 finishes on the season, a significant drop for the 26-year-old, who usually posts top 10s with regularity.
“Winning this event last year was a huge boost to my confidence,” said Henderson. “I've always wanted to win at this event. So, that that was really big, and then the rest of the year I maybe didn't play quite as well as I would have liked. So, coming into 2024, I'm excited to get started again and hopefully lower my scoring average a little bit, which will hopefully put me in contention more times throughout the year on the weekend. And that's all you really want is an opportunity to win or an opportunity to be great.”
To reach that level of greatness again, Henderson has retooled her golf bag. In November, she attended a TaylorMade commercial shoot and was given the company’s newest driver, the Qi10, to use. She immediately fell in love with the performance and added it, as well as the accompanying fairway woods, to her arsenal.
“I used it on the range, and I was like 'Wow, I love this,'” gushed Henderson. “So, it went immediately into my bag, and it has been such a great change. I've gained a little bit of distance and I feel like I'm hitting it much straighter which gives me a lot of confidence moving forward."
Last year, Henderson’s driving accuracy, usually one of her assets, dropped to 73 per cent from roughly 79, a significant stumble. She’s hoping the new driver will keep her in the fairway more often.
In addition to the woods, the Canadian star has also added a new putter and will use irons that she adopted last fall.
“This stuff that they came up with, it's just so good that it was a really easy and quick change,” she said. “I love being a part of Team TaylorMade. I feel like it's been a great change for me and being alongside other amazing athletes has been pretty cool.”
Henderson had a chance to rub elbows with some of those amazing athletes at TaylorMade’s equipment shoot, which in addition to creating content of the players promoting the new gear, also included putting together a humorous Christmas message, where they all dressed as elves.
The group of golfers was comprised of Henderson, Nelly Korda, Tommy Fleetwood, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler and Tiger Woods.
“I sat beside Tiger at the breakfast and that was pretty cool for me,” admitted Henderson. “To be in the company of all those talented players. It really means a lot to me, and I feel like I was very inspired and motivated to be in their company.”
The only negative to the start of the new season for Henderson was evident on her base of her thumb, which was wrapped with black tape that traveled down to her wrist.
Henderson admitted that she’s had a bothersome thumb since 2017 but that last year it began to be a consistent and worsening problem. She’s been working with the LPGA’s team of physiotherapists and was seeing some improvement during the off-season, but now that she’s been gearing up for the new year and practicing regularly, the nagging pain has returned.
“Hopefully it won't last forever,” she stated. “But I think while playing I'll probably have to deal with at least a little bit.”
That will start this week as Henderson attempts to get off to another fast start. Then, she hopes, she can continue her momentum through the year and add more wins and top finishes to her already impressive career.