Although she led from wire to wire, it was still a nervy win at the Lotte Championship presented by Hershey for Brooke Henderson.
It marked the sixth career win for the 20-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ont., a town where Hershey had a plant for 45 years before it closed in 2009. This one required more mental grit than most of her other titles due to the strong, constant ocean breezes that buffeted the Oahu coast.
“The wind conditions were incredible,” Henderson told the Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz after the victory. “It was so windy every single day and I think Brittany and I did such an amazing job adjusting to it and calculating yardages.”
While she never trailed, there were a few bumps along her path to victory. After pushing her lead to five shots mid-way through the third round, Henderson stumbled in, going three over in her last three holes, a stretch that included a four-putt on the par-three 16th.
Most times during the tournament her putter was hot but on other occasions also a bit wonky, leading to some anxious moments.
“I just had to overcome that,” she said referring to the four whacks needed on Friday. “Fortunately I was able to do that. There were a couple of times when I was a little bit shaky but I remembered all the great putting I did the first two days and I just tried to be calm, be relaxed and just see the line and hit it there.”
It clearly worked. On Saturday, two front-nine birdies gave her a three-shot cushion heading to the back side of the Ko Olina Golf Club in Oahu, Hawaii, but that narrowed to two strokes with a bogey on the 12th. It even fell to just a single stroke for a brief moment when Inbee Park made a birdie on the 15th hole, but Henderson responded with a birdie of her own on the 14th hole to re-establish her lead. A clutch putt on the 16th – the hole she doubled a day before -- led to another birdie and by the time she walked up the 18th hole she was up by four strokes, the victory all but assured.
It was the fourth time in her young career that Henderson has held the 54-hold lead and the third time she’s gone on to win, proving she is a solid closer.
While she was a long way from Canada, she touched the hearts of many by wearing a green and gold ribbon on her visor all week and then dedicating her win to the people in Humboldt, Sask.
Henderson joins Sandra Post as the only Canadian golfers to win events in four consecutive years. She now trails Post, George Knudson and Mike Weir in career victories by Canadian professionals by two.